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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How does a GPS work?



For our editorial lesson today how about we combine some modern technology with the Bible and see if we can find some thoughts worth considering. The item of technology that I'm referring to is a device called a "GPS." This is an acronym for "Global Positioning System."

I suppose I could start by asking how many of you own one? Or, how many of you even know what one is? If you don't know what a GPS is, hopefully after reading this you will at least know the basics of this technological wonder. And, hopefully, you'll have learned a little more about God's Word.

Very briefly, a GPS is the latest navigational device available to the public and, like many other technological advances, it originated with the military and most of its usage and capabilities are still controlled by the military today. That's because the system works by using various satellites that encircle the globe (thus global) and the military owns the satellites. But, by Presidential decree, part of the system is allowed to be used by civilians, as in you and me.

A "GPS," or "Global Positioning System" provides us with five things: (1) Location, (2) Navigation, (3) Timing, (4) Mapping, and (5) Tracking. By using this system we can know where we are, where we're going and how to get there. To the best of my ability, I'm going to lay this bit of technology along side the Bible and see if we can't know those same categories spiritually.

In thinking about "navigation," the process of getting from one location to another, let's review some of the old methods that were used. Going back to the "real old days" people got from one place to another by the use of "landmarks" IE: trees, mountains and trails marked with some sort of markings such as piles of rocks. Of course this didn't apply to ocean travel so in the early days they didn't get out of sight of land, or if they did, they used what is called "dead reckoning." This involved using a magnetic compass and was not very accurate.

A great Biblical example of "landmarks" was when God led the Israelites out of Egypt en route to the "Promised Land." They knew where they started from, but had no idea of the route they were to travel. What was their form of navigation? A cloud by day and a fire by night (Exo. 13:21) And when we think about who provided this navigational system, we have to say that God was their GPS.

Remember the five categories provided by the GPS? Let's look a little closer at those for a few minutes and see if we can't incorporate them, parabolically speaking, into a spiritual lesson. The first was "location." Exactly what, or where, our position is. The Gospel succinctly tells us: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23)

And, after baptism into Christ and the beginning of our journey towards a heavenly home, we can know our position at any and all times by knowing whether we're keeping God's commandments. 1 John 3:24 tells us that as long as we are keeping His commandments we're dwelling in Him and He in us. If we're not doing so, we know that we're off course.

Navigation was the second category and that's simply the process of getting from our starting point to our destination. This is an easy one to realize. We have a path laid out for us. A "landmark" if you will and a guide to guide us. Jesus is both the path, "The Way" and the guide. (John 14:6)

The third category is time. The GPS is extremely accurate as to time because of the order God set into place at the creation. But the one thing a GPS cannot do is tell us how much time we have to complete our journey. Our "Guide" warns us to "take heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is." (Mk. 13:33) What we do know is that at some point our journey will end and at that "time" we will know where that destination is. Did we stay on course or did we stray.

The fourth category provided by a GPS is "mapping." In other words, a delineated route to direct our travel between our starting point and our intended destination. Very simply put, the Gospel of Christ is our road map. It tells us exactly what we must do in order to make it safely to our destination.

And, not only is the Gospel our "map," it serves the fifth category of "tracking." Society today uses this GPS category in things like keeping track of criminals on probation or animals in the wild. They're referred to as "tracking devices." They simply tell the monitor where a particular "unit" is at all times.

Each person is a "particular unit" on the monitor screen of God. God knows, at any and all times, the exact position of each and everyone of us. Whether we are "dwelling in Him" IE: obedient to His Word, or whether we've gone off on our own or have decided to follow another doctrine. Another "map" or "route" other than His. Perhaps to be like His People of old, Israel, of whom the Prophet Jeremiah spoke in Jer. 18:15 when he said that they had "forgotten" Him and had left the "ancient paths" to walk in a "way" not on God's map. They had chosen other routes.

In closing, do you know where you are? Do you know your destination? If you want it to be heaven, do you know how to get there? You have a "spiritual GPS" in your hand, God's Word. Use it and you'll have the answer to all of those questions.

Ron Covey

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