New Hope Notes
Finding True North
Pastor Jon Burgess
Hello, New Hope! Would you help me welcome Tricia Burroughs-Vo? Tricia has been a volunteer in various New Hope ministries since 2009, such as, the Data Entry Ministry (calling people that requested prayer over the telephone), and the Welcome Team (calling visitors that came to church and invite them back).
One of the things that I love about you, Tricia, is your heart to pray, and the other is that you and your husband, Jimmy, are some of the best smilersin the church. Isn't that a great smile right there? Tricia has a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, also referred as the Suicide Disease,because the pain is chronic and constant—people with this disease usually want to end their lives! Yet, here is Tricia always smiling!
What amazes me is that I would have never known about your constant chronic pain because you don't walk around with your head hanging low in despair, and shaking your fist at the heavens. But, there was a day when you didn't want to come to church and smile, anymore! And, God spoke to you and said, “What if I want to you to use your smile for somebody that is about to give up or is hurting really bad?” At that point, you said, “I am going to smile regardless—because if I don’t smile, I’m in pain; if I smile, I’m in pain. So, I am smiling and giving it all to God!”
And because you couldn’t work, there were some challenging times, financially—you were being evicted from your home and about to become homeless—everything was crashing! So, you started praying because the stress from worrying just made things worse! God saw you through and you are not homeless!
Would you say that constant conversations with God, regardless of what's going on, is the key through your daily bout with pain (just sitting on a chair is painful) yet, you wanted to come and encourage all of your New Hope ohanato know that no matter what they are going through in life, if they follow the Lord's instruction, they will be able to fulfill the purposes of God in their lives!
TRICIA:Yes, even if you're broken! I'm on the Prayer Team, and when I pray for people, God is using me to speak into their lives. I'm there because I need more prayers than anybody!
PASTOR JON: What a warrior! When I am in pain, the last thing I want to do is to be around people, smiling, and being friendly. Tricia’s testimony is that if you follow the instructions of the Lord, you will experience joy—even in the midst of hardship and pain! The key to breakthrough is to follow instructions!
Proverbs 4:10-15 NIV says, “Listen,my son, accept what I say, andthe years of your life will be many. 11I instruct youin the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.[Wisdom shows you when to walk, when to run, and when to stand still!]13Hold on to instruction; do not let it go, guard it well, for it is your life.14Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 15Avoid it, do not travel on it, turn from it and go on your way.”
It’s as if God is saying if you want to conquer everything that will be thrown at you this year, you must guard your heart and obey His instructions!Distractions will entice and draw you to do other things, and cause you to miss the path that God has set for you, quicker than almost anything! These scriptures show the heart is a bad thing to follow:
1 John 3:20NIV says, “If ourhearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”Jeremiah 17:9 KJV says, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” Mark 7:21 KJV says, “…out of theheart of men, proceed evil thoughts.”
DON’T FOLLOW YOUR HEART. FOLLOW FATHER’S HEART FOR YOU!
Proverbs 4:20-27 NIV says, “20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
Remember the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean? Captain Jack Sparrow used his compass, but it didn’t point north! It pointed to the thing that he wanted most: Women, treasure, and rum! It’s not a good idea to follow your heart!Don’t make decisions on your feelings. Rely on facts.
But, sometimes, even the facts that we think are true and immoveable constantly change! For instance, if you get a compass and follow it north, you should end up at the North Pole, right? The Boys Scouts know something the rest of us might not know that there’s a difference between true northand magnetic north. The truth is that if you follow a compass, it will take you to magnetic north,which has been shifting over the past couple of years!
We trust that acompasswill point us north, but let’s go old schooland pull out a map: A map has something on it that will not change—longitude and latitude!Between a map and a compass, you can actually figure out the declination or the difference between magnetic north and true north, and find your way home.
Don't be led by your feelings or the world's facts—Be led by the unchanging longitude and latitude of the Word of God! No matter how shifting your feelings may be, or how topsy-turvy the world is, we will be able to navigate our way if we follow a map (The Bible) that is unchanging!
1. Latitude: Remember God's Mercy!
It’s easy to remember God’s mercy when things are good. But what about when things are bad and falling apart, and our emotions come flooding in? Slow down and remember:
Habakkuk 3:2-3 NIV says, “2Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. 3God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. (Selah is a musical term to pause a moment: remember how God led you through.) His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.”
Verse 9, “You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. You split the earth with rivers. Selah.” Again, he is stopping and thinking, this is the God who made the mountains and split the valley with a river—I remember that God is on my side!
Verse 13, “You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness; you stripped him from head to foot. Selah.” Habakkuk looks at the mountains and remembers that God is merciful—He wants mercy to triumph over judgment! Get your bearings and prevent yourself from running off a cliff. Ask: Have I done what God asked me to do?
2. Longitude: Rejoicing In The Lord!
You may be in a very difficult situation, feeling stress and panic rising, and the joy of the New Year fading—Stop. Remember God’s mercy and Rejoice! This may sound insane, but Habakkuk teaches us to do just the opposite of how we feel—Rejoice in the Lord!
Habakkuk 3:16-19 NIV says, “16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,[verse 18 is mind blowing] yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk is saying everything is still dead, dying, and decaying, yet he remembers God's mercy and knows that God does not change—He's the same yesterday, today, and forever! The situation is bad, but my God is good!
Verse 19,“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
I observed my dad and Pastor Wayne going through cancer. Both godly men never cursed God and never asked the wrong question: God, why are you letting these things happen? They asked the right question: What's a good God doing in this bad situation? Pastor Wayne grabs his guitar and sings in the middle of his cancer treatment, and my dad smiles on his way into surgery to remove his cancer! They are living out the truth of Habakkuk: Rejoicing in the Lord when there is no reason to rejoice(from a world's point of view). This is what finding true northis. Remember God’s mercy, He does not change! Rejoice in the Lordbecause our breakthrough is coming!
My family and I navigated through the worst loss our family has ever experienced: Our oldest son's best friend, Jake, crashed into a pole and died instantly. I was immediately faced with the reality: Can I rejoice in the Lord in the midst of this horrific situation? I wrote a song that has helped my family and me navigate through this loss; it also helped Jake's family and the school to find hope for tomorrow!
Can we rejoice before the situation is resolved, or will we rejoice only when our prayers are answered? Can we have hope before healing comes? Can we keep smiling despite the sorrow? Can we keep climbing when everything else is crumbling?Take the compass of your heart and hand it over to the Lord. He will lead you through the time that you're in.