A Compass for Life's Journey – Dr. Charles Stanley

Start your day off right with the free In Touch devotional. Subscribe today. ♪♪♪ CC by Aberdeen Captioning www.aberdeen.io 1-800-688-6621 male announcer: "In Touch" with Dr. Charles Stanley reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ through sound biblical teaching. Next on "In Touch", "A Compass for Life's Journey". Dr. Charles Stanley: I have in my hand a compass and I have had it for twenty-five years. It has never failed me. It's always pointed North, always pointed to the North Pole, so I can always tell by looking at this which direction I'm headed in. Now, if I put it in my pocket and I don't look at it, it doesn't do me any good. But if I will take it out and look at it, I will always know which direction I'm headed in. And I have been in some places a few times without it, I wish I'd had it because I needed it. And on one occasion when I was with a guide, I told him I thought we were heading in the wrong direction. He said, "Oh no, I've traveled this path many times and I know it's not the wrong direction." I pulled out my compass and I said, "Well, sir, either I have got to believe you or I've got to believe my compass, and I'm going to believe my compass because it never fails." Well, finally he admitted that we were right, and so we finally got where we were going. And when I think about how many times I've pulled this out to look at it, to check up on myself, to be sure I'm going the right directions, and one of the most valuable things about it to me personally for photographing is that when I want to be sure I have warm morning light when it's the most beautiful and it's side light, I can take this the night before and, okay, check out: Where is East? 'Cause I know the sun's coming from that direction. When I want to get a beautiful sunset, then I want to check out and see where's West because I know that's where it's going to set. So, there are some things I know for certain, not going to ever lead me wrong, always going to tell me what's right. And so, when I think about this, it points in eight different directions. There's North and Northeast and East. Then there's Southeast and South. Then there's Southwest and West, and then there's Northwest. So, there are eight different directions it's going to point me in. And just to know that I can trust it all the time is a great sense of security. Well, that's good for travel, there's a better compass for living. And as surely as that compass will always point, watch this, will always point to the North Pole, this compass always points upward every single time. And what I want to do in this message is this, and I want to talk about a "Compass for Life's Journey". And what I want to do is simply this, I want to take a passage of scripture, one of the most important passages of scripture in the Bible to me personally, because right after I was saved, somehow by the grace of God and His goodness, I came across this passage of scripture. And there are two verses primarily that God spoke to my heart about. And then, after a few years went by, I realized that there was so much more here. And so, what I want us to do is I want us to read this passage of scripture and then here's what we're going to do. I'm going to show you why this Bible and this passage of scripture is an awesome guide for your life and mine. And this passage alone will always keep you headed in the right direction. And then, when we talk about how it directs us, I want to talk about the value that following this, listen, this compass that never points us in the wrong direction, but it--listen. I want to show you the value of simply doing and following the compass. So, I want you to turn, if you will, to Proverbs chapter three, and I usually don't read a long passage of scripture, but it's a wonderful passage. So, beginning in verse one, "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; "For length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you. "Do not let kindness and truth leave you, bind them around your neck, and write them on the tablet of your heart. "So you will find favor and good report," or a good reputation "in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight," or direct your path. "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, and refreshment to your bones. Honor the LORD from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, or loathe His reproof, For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights." Now, I believe this, number one, because it is scripture. I believe it for the second reason because I was saved when I was twelve years of age. Right after that, these two verses, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path." Those two verses became like an anchor to my own thinking. And then as I began to read later on in life, a little later on, these other verses helped me to realize that here in one passage is a compass for living. And I can tell you God can be trusted to be faithful. This passage will always keep you walking in the right direction. So, let's think about it for a moment. Let's look at the direction of this compass, the Word of God, this Bible compass. And the first thing you'll notice is that it points to the scripture itself. Listen. "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments." Listen, this compass is our moral guide for this life. You and I live in a world that is very immoral, full of difficulties, heartache, pain, troubles, trials and immoralities. This compass will keep you heading in the right direction all the time. Because remember this. Every day you hear voices that would pull you away from the right path. You see things that would pull you away from the right path if you're not careful what you look at. And so, many people are not down-- are not going down the right path. They're not heading in the right direction. First of all, they don't even know what it is. You see, if you neglect the compass, you're going to get in trouble sooner or later. And there are so many things in life, listen, that cloud our thinking. So many voices we hear that would try to convince us and persuade us this is right and that's right. The Word of God, meditating upon the Word, listening to the Word, taking notes on the Word, applying the words to our heart. So, he says, "My son, do not forget my teaching, let your heart keep my commandments." Let the Word of God be uppermost in your thinking. Daily it is your compass for living. The second thing I want you to notice is this. This compass points us, listen to what he says, "Do not let kindness and truth leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Kindness, kindness--listen. This compass is always going to point us to being kind, that's considerate and thoughtful and giving and helpful and warm about our feelings toward other people. And the Bible says that kindness makes a man or a woman attractive. That is, God uses that character quality in our life to attract people to the Lord Jesus Christ who lives inside of us. And so, this compass is always going to point you and me, listen, to be kind toward other people, to be helpful, to be a servant, to be giving, when necessary, to be an encouragement to them in some way or the other. And so, kindness is one direction we'll always walk in if we follow this compass. But notice if you will what he says also. He says, "And truth." That is, this compass will always lead you to truth. Why? Because it is inspired by the Living God. It is the infallible, inerrant compass. It makes no mistakes. It always points--listen. It always points God-ward. Just like the physical compass always points North-ward, to the North Pole, this compass always points toward God, heavenly, and it will always lead you in the right direction. That is, to be truthful to other people, and to act in truth with integrity. Then, if you'll notice what He says. He says, "Trust in the LORD trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not," listen, "lean not to your own understanding," which simply means this. This compass always, always points us to trust, to faith, that our God is trustworthy. He never makes a mistake. He will never mislead you under any condition. And sometimes we have difficulty trusting God. And sometimes a person will say, "Well, I trust Him sort of." Listen carefully. You don't trust Him sort of. You either do trust Him or you don't trust Him. You don't trust Him sort of. And oftentimes we have difficulty when God requires of us something that we see is difficult for us. And we say, "Well, God, but how?" And because we can't figure it out, we don't trust Him. And when we do not trust Him in any area of our life, we're insulting God. What we're saying and what we're implying is this. He's not trustworthy. If He says, "I'm calling you to do this work," or, "here's what I want you to say here." And we say, "Well, I-- I just don't think I can do that." God by His nature would never call you to do something He will not equip you to do. He will not call you to give something He'll not provide the resources for. He's not going, listen, He's not going to lead you into a lifestyle for which He has not equipped you in your gifts and talents and skills and abilities. Therefore, to deny Him, His rightful place in your life of trusting Him, you are saying to Him, "I can't trust You. I don't believe You." Say, "Oh, I'd never tell God that." Your actions shout it to Him. Think about, here's this righteous God who never makes a mistake, who loves you unconditionally, who would never mislead you and you're telling Him you don't believe Him. You know what it says? You--you've closed the compass. This compass is always going to lead you to trust Him. But I want you to notice something else about it. And that is, it will always lead you to seek His mind and His will about things. Listen to what He says. He says, now, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding," and then he says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him." This compass is always going to point you in the direction of seeking the Lord. That is, what does God think about the question before you? How does God want to intervene in this decision to give you the right sense of direction? "In all your ways acknowledge Him. Which means, listen, if I acknowledge Him, I'm recognizing Him as my Lord. I'm recognizing, listen, His infinite and perfect wisdom. I'm recognizing the fact that He will only lead me in the right direction. I'm recognizing the fact that He loves me unconditionally. I'm recognizing the fact that He only has the best for me, so therefore in all your ways acknowledge Him. That is, look to Him, seek Him. Now think about this. What is it in your life that you would say, "Now, God has nothing to do with that, not a thing." In all your ways, in all your decisions, we're to seek Him. We're to ask Him. And you see, if you're not, if you're not into the compass daily, you can mark it down, you're going to step off the path. You're going to head in the wrong direction. Why does He give us this awesome compass to live by? Simply because He loves us. Listen, He knows where all the pitfalls are. He knows on the path of your life and mine where it's very narrow. He knows where it's very broad. He knows all the temptations along the way. He knows all about the voices that'll be calling for you here, calling for you there. He knows all about the attractive things that will appeal to you. And so, whatever there is out there, He knows all about them. And so, what? He wants us to seek His will. God, what would You have me to do? What you have to do is, check the compass. You cannot name a single solitary experience in life in which this compass will not give you clear direction. If you will meditate upon it if you will ask God to give you direction. You see, because there's no area in your life that you could exclude God. So, he says, "In all your ways, in all your ways acknowledge Him." And then, if you will notice, look again here in this verse. He says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil." Now, this compass always points to obedience, always. There's not a single verse to be found in scripture that would entice us to do evil. That's not who God is. This compass always points to obedience. Why? Because the God who created you, created a plan for your life. You may be in the plan or not in the plan. Listen, He has a pathway for us to walk. This pathway is the pathway created by a loving God who loves us unconditionally. It's a pathway that leads to the best for our life. It's a pathway that has difficulty on it, hardship, troubles, trials. But He's going to use every single one of those to do what? To build character into our life and to make us Christ-like, and to make us more useful, listen, to make us a more valuable vessel of His. Because the more those difficulties and hardships and trials we've been through, listen, the more capable we are of tenderly listening to others, and being able to discern what's really going on in their heart, and being able to identify with them, and hurt with them. And so, all of those things are part of His plan. And so, when you think about, "Well, God, if You really love me, You'd eliminate all of these things." No, He wouldn't. It's because He loves us. And so, if you'll think about it, He would never leave you to do any-- lead you to do anything that's disobedient. So, when you ask God to show you His will, and you deliberately, willfully, listen, step off the path, what you're saying is, "I'm smarter than God." What you're saying is, "God, I know that's what the compass says, but I'm going to do something different." Listen carefully. There are many of you who have something in your life that's drawing you off course, off the path. And, soon as I said that, you already know what it is, because you know it doesn't fit who you are. It's not contributing to your life. It has you confused, frustrated, guilty, mixed up, and some of you are in depression because you've been off the path so long. All I want to say is this. If you don't get on the right path, if you don't get back to following the leadership of the compass, you're going to make a horrible mistake. And I want to tell you, my friend, anytime you're walking the path of disobedience, you are going to be disappointed, and you are going to self-destruct if you don't get on the right path. He says, "Fear the Lord and turn away from evil." The next thing I want you to know is, it's points us also, listen, to financial wisdom. Look at this. He says in this ninth verse, "Honor the LORD from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; So that your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine." What does it mean to honor the Lord? It means that I respect Him and revere Him. It means I acknowledge His Lordship. And when it comes to finances, here's what it means. I honor Him as the creator of all wealth. I honor Him as the source of all of my wealth. It may be very, very, very little, but it falls in the category of wealth. Honor the Lord with your wealth. Listen, honor the Lord from your wealth. That's very simple. Now, my wealth and your wealth is not only dollars and cents, it's your abilities, your talents, your skills, your opportunities. Honor the Lord from your wealth. Listen, this is part of the compass. He said, "You want direction in your finances? Then start honoring God." Because when you dishonor God, and then you expect Him to get you out of the mess, that's a contradiction. And I'll tell you why it's not going to happen. Because listen, God isn't going to contribute to what you are doing wrongly. Is this because He's a judgmental God? No, it's because, listen, it's because He knows what's best, and He tries to get our attention. And when people get in debt and they go to some counselor and they give them, well just, you know, mortgage your house again. Now you got a bigger debt, or do this or do that. And if you listen to all these commercials telling you how to get out of debt, they're not telling you how to get out of debt. They're telling you how to have more money now, which is a trap. This compass will never mislead you. Then listen to the last direction of this compass, and that is, "My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, or loathe His reproof," that is, don't hate His reproof, "For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights." You know what he says? He says, "Here's what this compass says." This compass says, listen, "Accept God's reproof. Accept His discipline because it came from the Father's love." When God comes down upon us for our disobedience, we turn with hatred, animosity. "God, why are You allowing this--doing this to me?" And if He answered, you know what He'd say? "I'm loving you." Well, this is not a way to love me. Wisdom says it is. Well, God, why are You doing this to me? Because I have this awesome path I've created for you, and I want you to get the full benefit of walking according to My will. Now, watch this. In all of these eight directions from this compass, in essence here's what it says. Stop trying to live in this fantasy world of becoming what you want to become, doing what you want to do, being what you want to be in violation of the Word of God. That's a fantasy world, and come back to reality and look at the compass and begin to follow it. Now, the second part I want you to see that we'll go through rather quickly, so listen carefully. I want you to see the value, and all these eight values are right here, the value of following the compass. And here's the first one, we're going not over those same verses, but the verses in between, so watch this. Here's what he says, "My son, do not forget my teaching, let your heart keep my commandments." So, here's what he says. One of the first values is, "Length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you." He says, listen. You want your days to be more productive? You want your years to be more fruitful? Listen. Do you want the best of what God has to offer? You think about how many people waste so much time in a given day. And if I call somebody and I say, "What are you doing?" Well, I'm not doing anything. My first response is, "Well, then you need to get busy, because before we get off this phone, some of your life is already gone and you wasted it." We should, listen, we should be busy about the right things in life. Does this mean we don't ever take a break? Now, I'm not talking about that. But what I want you to see is this. He says, "When you follow this compass, here's what you can expect: Length of days, years of life, they will add to you. Are you saying to me that I'll live longer if I obey God? I can't guarantee that, but I can tell you one thing. More than likely, more than likely you might. One thing I can say is this. Life will be better if you follow the compass. So, he says, first of all, "Your days and your years are going to be better." The second thing he says is, listen, accompanying those days and years, he says, "And peace they will add to you." Listen to this. That doesn't mean that our life is just going to be full of [humming], ♪ everything is just fine and wonderful every day ♪ It means, some days are going to be [humming]-- Some days are going to be-- Ugh! And here's what he says, "When the days are difficult and painful, there will be this peace, this sustaining peace, this overwhelming sense of comfort and assurance, my God is walking with me through this." When you walk His path, you follow His compass, what does he say? He says, "Length of days and years of life and peace they're going to add to you." Then notice what he says. Not only that, every one of these makes it valuable for us. He says, "So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man." Think about this. Do you want the favor of God in your life personally? Do you want the favor of God upon your family? You want the favor of God in the life of your children? Do you want the favor of God bestowed upon you? When you follow the compass as we've just mentioned here, what happens is, He says, listen, we have the favor of God. That--listen, that means the good things of God, God's plan, His provision, His best comes our way, and now we can handle it. Why? Because we're on the right path doing the right thing. Then if you'll notice, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, He will direct your paths." One of the values of following the compass is He will direct your path, and He will make it straight. You know what? You can't choose a better path than God's path. This compass is going to lead you, listen, to do the right thing every time and what's going to happen is He's going to give you direction. Do you think God would withhold direction from you when you need direction in your life? If you stay with the compass, listen. There's not a single area of your life and I repeat this, where as you need direction, God will give you direction from this compass if you will meditate upon it and read it. Let it soak into your mind and heart. And listen to this last value. The last value is this, a father's loving correction. You say, "I don't want that in my life." Then you know what? You'll get off the path. Every single one of us get off the path if we don't stay with the compass. There's no compass like this one. And if you take the compass and lay it down, what you're doing is you're positioning yourself to get off the path. And I want to challenge you, I want to challenge you to read the scripture over and over again. Let it be the compass of your life to keep you on the right path so that you'll have God's absolute best blessings for your life for the future. And Father, how grateful we are that You could pack so much in such a few verses. To give us a sense of direction for every aspect of our life, and just encompass us with so many blessings and the assurance and the peace that we have knowing, when we follow this compass, always headed in the right direction. And know that one of these days we'll stand before You, and we trust that all of us, Father, will stand before You with gratitude and thanksgiving, having looked back to see when we got on Your path it was the best part of our life, in Jesus' name, amen.