True North

Christian Faith, Inspiration, Lessons From God's Word, Uncategorized

COMPASS -- Efraim Stochter -- PX

In routine life on Planet Earth, there’s one rather ordinary looking piece of equipment that is used by thousands of people every day. It’s called a compass. Hikers, hunters, military personnel, navigators on ships and planes, and even  12-year-old boy scouts and girl scouts out on field trips use a compass as a normal part of their activities. Most of us have used one at some point in time, or at least played with one just to see how it works. Its job: to make geographical directions clear so that we can find our way safely and expeditiously from one point on this earth to another.

But that compass will not help us — it will, in fact, lead us the wrong way and get us into trouble — it is fails to point its arrow accurately to the North. If it’s off just a tiny bit, it can cause us to go miles in the wrong direction and totally miss our destination. That compass must point its arrow to TRUE NORTH, or it does us no good at all.

Now for individual journeys from one geographical place to another, any average compass in good working order is good enough. But what about our life-long journey — our time from birth to death — when we make our way along the road of life with all its twists and turns and possible detours? What provides our source of accurate directions for that journey?  Well, there’s only One who knows for sure how to navigate that life path successfully and wind up at the right places at the right times — as well as how to wind up in the right place at the end of the journey — and that person is our Creator — the One who made us to live this life in the first place.

We hear people today talk about how different people have different “moral compasses”  — to each his own — everyone lives by his own standards. But the truth is that all moral compasses that don’t point to Jesus Christ are extremely faulty and will lead the followers into trouble — and eventually into destruction.

Jesus Christ is the only TRUE NORTH. If our life compass focuses on Him, we will be able to stay on course — with joyful results. If it does not point to Him, we’re lost — in more ways than one.

I hear people say things like this: “Well, there are people who do good and live right in this world who aren’t Christians.” And I agree that I know some people who love their families and who try to live by rules that are, for the most part, kind. But the fact is that the only reason those people act as positively as they do is that they’ve been taught the basic rules of God’s Word.

Now they may not recognize those words as coming from the Bible. And they may not have learned them in a church. But they were influenced by others — even by the laws of the land — to understand a lot about what’s right and wrong. Every law of the land in any nation that protects people and guides them to act in ways that avoid hurting someone else came originally from the plans for living right laid out in God’s original law.

The truth is that the only foundation any society — indeed any human being from Adam and Eve down — has for determining what’s right and wrong is God’s Word. That’s why God gave the original ten commandments: so man would know what was good and what was evil. And all the civilized nations in the word have laws that follow those ten commandments. No human being came up with those ideas on his own. His Creator taught him right and wrong.

Why did the Creator need to teach man? Because the only good there is in the universe is in God Himself and what proceeds out of Him.

Let me say that again: There is no good in this world except what proceeds out of God. Man is born sinful — selfish, self-centered, and out for himself alone. Prove it you say? Look at any little baby. He wants his needs met, and when they’re not met, he cries — and cries — and cries — until Mom and Dad stop whatever else they are doing and give baby whatever it is he wants.  And as a child grows, he knows to focus on his own needs and wants without being taught. His wants come first.

Most parents — if they are responsible in their child rearing — begin teaching their children about kindness and consideration for others at an early age. But those things have to be taught. They never come naturally to any human being. Goodness, kindness, and generosity are learned behavior — coming either from instruction or environmental influence. There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.

The Word of God says it simply and succinctly when it says, “There is none good but God.” (Luke 18:19) and “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10) and “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.  He must receive his goodness from God.

Now, living on this earth in the right environment may help some people soak up understanding of some of that goodness. And they may exert some effort to make it active in their lives. Anyone who gets out in the rain gets wet. Anyone who gets out in the sun gets warm. But those conditions are superficial and temporary. So, in the same manner, anyone who is reared and nurtured in an environment of good, loving ways will, no doubt, soak up some of that attitude and that philosophy of life — and its accompanying behavior.

But as with the sun and the rain, those things are superficial and temporary. They will carry that person only so far and for only so long. He will ultimately fail in his morality and goodness. I have lived 72 years on this earth and been actively involved with thousands of people from all over the world, and I have yet to see an exception to this rule. Nor do I know any other people who have come across an exception. No human being other than Jesus Christ has ever lived without failing in morality and goodness. Until we receive Jesus Christ and put Him in control, everyone of us fails to live up to the goodness of God — the goodness required to be fit to live with Him for eternity.

The only good we know and do apart from Jesus is what we acquired by osmosis because God’s goodness managed to penetrate our soul a little. But without our spirit being born again by the entrance of Jesus Christ, that “goodness” is nothing but a garment we wear. What’s inside will eventually come to the forefront. And, yes, I realize I am repeating myself here, but with good reason. My experience with humanity has taught me that very few people can capture and hold onto a new concept the first time they hear it. And, for many people reading this article, the concept I’m sharing is new indeed. So explaining the same truth again — and in slightly different terms — is a safeguard and an insurance that more people will grasp this truth and let it help them move forward to what they need.

The exciting part of this truth is that once Jesus is allowed to come in and take control, His own righteousness is transferred into our being. At that point, we aren’t just trying to be good and do good because of some training that will eventually fail us. No. Jesus gives us His own inherent goodness and holiness. It becomes who we are because He has become the controller of who we are. We are one with Him.

And since He alone is TRUTH (John 1:17; John 14:6), He provides the infallible compass for our life from that point through all eternity. Do our souls and bodies sometimes fail to measure up? Yes, but Jesus, our unerring compass, lovingly points us back to the right direction, and the wrong steps we took gets corrected so that we don’t ever get completely off course again.

Jesus Christ is our TRUE NORTH. If you haven’t yet made Him the compass of your life, right now is the best time to do it. No matter how far off course you are at present, if you’ll turn your life over to Him, you will immediately see where “True North” is, and you’ll never have to worry about being lost again on this journey through life. Not only that, you’re guaranteed to wind up at the destination you were always intended to reach — in this life on earth and for eternity.

photo credit: Efraim Stochter (MW) @


The Lord Giveth … The *Devil* Taketh Away (Chapter 4)






Another serious problem with the book of Job is that readers make the mistake of assuming that because a statement is made in the Bible, that statement has to be a truth — or it has to be something God agrees with. That idea is a fallacy, and it is also why God admonishes his people, as Paul did Timothy, to learn to “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Think about it: The Bible is full of stories of people who do not know God at all – some of whom even cursed Him and terrorized His followers. Those people are quoted in scripture so that the reader will know what they felt and how they acted. But everything they said is not a fact — nor is it something God wants his followers to believe. The statements of these people are truly reported — but they are not statements of truth.

It is incumbent upon any Christian who really wants to know God and become like Him to learn to determine which statements in scripture are simply statements relating events or other people’s opinions or words — and which statements are God’s covenant principles and promises. Only those statements that are God’s own personal statements to man concerning His plans for man’s salvation and His principles of interacting with man are to be taken as His truth. Those are the statements upon which people must build their relationship with God and upon which they can rely confidently for their future in eternity.

The book of Job is full of statements – by Job, his wife, and all of his friends – which are definitely not truths. They are not accurate in the least, but are the product of their finite human reasoning, trying to explain the Creator of the universe and His ways. And even that reasoning is founded in basic ignorance of the spiritual realm and the Creator of the universe. They may have been intelligent men, but intelligence makes no difference if the information necessary to understanding isn’t available. A man can be a genius, yet have no access to true information concerning a subject or a circumstance upon which to base any judgments or decisions, so he is ignorant concerning that particular subject.

That Job and his friends were ignorant concerning God and His ways with man is clearly evident. In fact, this study of Job does not begin to have room to deal with all of the statements made by these men which are totally dis-proven when Jesus comes on the scene in the New Testament. But for the sake of clarity, this chapter will deal with a few of them.

In chapter one, after Job receives the last report concerning all of his losses, he makes the following statement: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” This particular passage has been accepted into the mainstream of Christendom, quoted, slobbered over, included in thousands of funeral services, and even used to supposedly “console” grieving survivors concerning the loss of their loved ones. The problem is that in the mind set of most Christians, a statement like this one sounds “holy.” It amounts to another way of saying, “Well, God is in control, and He knows best.” Or another way of saying, “None of this would have happened if God hadn’t wanted it to.”

But the truth is — Wait —

Does the church want the truth? Perhaps now is the time to ask that question. Do the majority of Christians really want to know the truth? Because if they do recognize that truth — that God is not always in control because He has chosen to give man some control through the covenant — then the Christians are going to have to stop using that verse as a cop-out. They are going to have to step back and say, “Wait a minute. I have a part to play in this. The devil has a part to play in this. What does my covenant say? Have I failed to learn how to walk in that covenant correctly? What does the promise of God say? Is there a condition required by that promise that I have failed to meet?”

Knowing the real truth makes the Christian responsible for a whole lot more than he’s responsible for if he can always toss off some serious loss of a blessing by saying, “Oh, well, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away whenever He wants to. I have nothing to do with it.”

Well, where does one go for the truth in this instance? The same place God sends His people for every answer: to Jesus Christ. Jesus was quite explicit when He was teaching His followers how to recognize their God — versus their enemy. He said, in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

It couldn’t be any more clear. Jesus has, in two sentences, rightly divided the Word of God and drawn the battle lines. He — representing all that God is — has come to give life only, and that in abundance. The thief is the one who steals, kills, and destroys. The devil is described as a liar and a thief at other places in scripture, so his identity should be clear to any student of the Bible. The reader also needs to bear in mind that even losses due to destruction caused by elements of nature are the result of the enemy’s interference in those forces. Because the devil has a right to operate on earth (including its atmosphere) — and because he is a spiritual being and knows how to use spiritual power — he can make use of natural elements for his own destructive ends.

To sum it up simply, if the Christian — or anyone else — is experiencing loss as a result of having something stolen, something killed, or something destroyed, Jesus says God didn’t do it. So when Job says, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” is his statement true? It cannot be true! Either Job is wrong, or Jesus is wrong. That decision shouldn’t take more than one second to make. “Well, then,” the reader may ask, “does that mean the Bible is wrong?” No. The Bible has truly reported Job’s statement. But Job was wrong! His statement itself is the result of Job’s ignorance concerning who gives and who takes away.

Job himself makes it clear that he is in ignorance because he says in chapter 9, verse 24, “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges so that they are blinded to justice. If it is not God, who then is it responsible for all this inequality?” (Amplified Bible). Job is at least honest at this point. He says, “If God isn’t the one responsible for everything being the way it is, then who is?” He honestly doesn’t know. So he assumes that his opinion is correct. This attitude has been man’s downfall in all generations when he has tried to explain and understand God by his own finite mind.

Job is missing two very important bits of information here. First of all, he has given absolutely no consideration to the fact that he has an enemy in power on the earth: Satan. He evidently has no knowledge of Satan — or he has become like so many modern Christians — and would rather ignore him and blame God for everything. Moreover, while Job recognizes that the earth has been given into the hand of the wicked, he doesn’t recognize that it was man — not God — who handed the earth over to Satan and his forces. Job seems to be in ignorance concerning the sin in the garden, by which man chose to disobey God and submit to Satan, thereby giving him a legal right to take control in the earth. God had given man the legal control of the planet, telling Adam and Eve clearly to “rule” over every creature and to “subdue the earth” — bring it into subjection to their authority and control.

Since Adam and Eve chose not to rule over the serpent, but to believe him and obey his admonition, thereby rebelling against God, they subjugated themselves and their domain to him and his power. Job seems unaware of this fact, but he is definitely aware of the consequences of it: the fact that the earth is, at the time of Job’s life, in the hands of the wicked. (Until such time as Jesus came as a human being to win back that rulership for the human race and for God.)

But Job blames God. Moreover, he says in the two verses above verse 24, “God destroys the blameless and the wicked,” and then goes on to add, “He mocks at the calamity and trial of the innocent.” Not so. Whether Abraham was a contemporary of Job or a forerunner, his experience with God, in covenant, was that God would not slay the innocent with the wicked, nor would He laugh at their calamity. In fact Abraham had a long talk with the Lord about that very subject when the future of Sodom was at stake, and Abraham, who had a better understanding than Job concerning God, made a point to the Lord that he was sure God would not slay the innocent with the wicked. (Genesis 18:25).

David has something to say on this subject as well. God identifies David in words that He uses for no other major spiritual leader in scripture: He says David is “a man after My own heart.” (Acts 13:22).Now here’s a man who had spent years out in the fields as a shepherd, communing with God, and as a result, penning hundreds of psalms describing God and His relationship with man.

In Psalm 91, David gives an incredibly detailed account of how all-encompassing God’s protection is for those of His creation who keep themselves in an intimate relationship with Him (dwelling “in His secret place” and “under His shadow”). Like any of the promises of God, these promises have provisions. Man must, first of all, know that the promises exist; then he must believe them enough to make sure he meets the provisions; then he must activate his faith in receiving and applying those promises to his own individual life.

That’s the process by which every believer received the new birth experience. He heard the promise that he could be saved by calling on Jesus and His finished work; he obeyed the provisions of that promise; then he applied it to his life by faith, accepting the fact that he was now a child of God. He spoke it out of his mouth and lived daily in agreement with the Word of God concerning his salvation. So it is with all of God’s promises.

And according to Psalm 91, the man who will believe the words of this Psalm and apply them to himself by his lifestyle and his own words — who will put himself and keep himself in intimate relationship with God — will be kept from terror, attack from his enemies, pestilence, sudden death, and all kinds of plagues and calamity. Moreover, the Lord will deliver him from all trouble.

And as far as Job’s statement that God “slays the innocent with the wicked,” is concerned, this Psalm written by the “man after God’s own heart” says to the innocent and Godly man: “a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.”

Now, if all of the promises in Psalm 91 are true, something’s wrong in Job’s life. He must not have been in that intimate relationship with God. In fact, according to him, he didn’t even know about any of these promises, and he obviously didn’t believe for them to come to pass in his life, because he says he was continuously fearful — even greatly fearful — so his lifestyle and his words could not have lined up with these words of God. And, once again, it is important to cite that Job seems to have had absolutely no written record of anything God had said or done concerning a covenant relationship with man.

One of Job’s other frequent complaints is that when he calls to God, God will not answer him. He says this a number of times in different ways, but, here again, his statements are diametrically opposed to everything else in scripture that is a promise or covenant principle set forth by God Himself. Again, in Psalm 91, God addresses this issue with these words: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.” Another similar promise is found in Jeremiah 19:12-13: “Then shall ye call upon me and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

David has something else to say, in Psalm 41, that counters another of Job’s complaints that was rooted in ignorance of God. Job refers to himself in chapter 29 as a person who faithfully took care of the poor, the fatherless, the widows, the blind, and the lame. If that had been true, and he had been in a covenant relationship with God as David was, he would have known God’s promise to give special care and protection to the people who did those things. David talks, in Psalm 41, about how God treats the man or woman who specifically cares for the poor, the weak, and the sick. That Psalm says the Lord will deliver that man in the day of trouble, He will protect him and keep him alive, and He will refuse to give him over to the desire of his enemies. But Job is in total ignorance of a God like that.

These few examples are, by no means, the complete picture of Job’s total misunderstanding of the situation he’s in. He consistently accuses God of being his enemy and the perpetrator of all that is darkness, hardship, and evil in his experiences. But every time, the problem is rooted in his lack of knowledge and understanding, lack of intimate relationship, and, ultimately, lack of covenant with God.

To be sure, Job says a few things that are correct. In spite of all he believes God has done to hurt him, he still seems to have some degree of understanding that this God will be the only one who can deliver him and will also be the only one who will control where Job spends eternity. He refers to the fact that he knows that his “Redeemer” lives, and that he will eventually see Him when this fleshly life has come to an end.(Job 19:25).

And it is also true that the Word says that even in Job’s ignorant responses, he did not act in a way that was considered sinful. Job 1:22 says, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” That word “charged” means to attribute folly to someone. So the indication is that, although Job accused God of doing evil, he did so out of honest ignorance and refused to judge God as evil or hold Him guilty of wrongdoing. Therefore, even though Job is wrong in his estimation of God, he is not held guilty of deliberately rebelling against Him or blaspheming Him.

But the reader needs to be careful not to take this statement as an indication that Job is correct in his judgment of God. Another similar statement comes close to the end of the book when God speaks to Job’s friends and says, “Ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7). But God does not say this about Job until Job himself has changed his tune completely — and then only after God spent four chapters worth of time getting him straightened out.

When all is said and done, Job spends the vast majority of his time doing exactly what Elihu accuses him of in chapter 35, verse 16: “Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.”

The following chapter will continue this detailed look into some more problematic passages.