Path of Life: “How?”

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Worship: Wisdom


There is a two-hand gesture, a dropped jaw and the “o” vowel formed with the lips that go with the question, “How?”

This little piece of improvised human choreography accompanies the sudden need for a solution.

  •  Some impossible task is demanded;
  • some totally new job must be done;
  • some inexplicable event has just unfolded before wide-open eyes and mouth and both palms outstretch to the sky, “How?”

This is usually followed by an oath, “—in the name of _________ how can we____________?”

Documentary evidence of this gesture and petition achieving anything at all is more than sketchy.

Truth be told, adults can suffer from over-stimulation as much as children. We need solutions, too. We are often presented with new problems, challenges, and worst of all new unspoken expectations.

  • Bosses tend to send work to those who can get the job done.
  • They send problems to those who are good at finding solutions and
  • they assign puzzles that no one solve to the those who can unravel confusion and make the necessary connections.
  • In the process, the “chosen ones” feel like spreading their hands to heaven and asking, “How?”

For those who ask in faith—God has answers. When you are on speaking terms with the One who knows everything, you can get answers to your questions.

The poet poses this question:

“How shall a young man cleanse his way?”

A commendable question to be sure. I want to meet young men like this one. They are swimming upstream in this generation and have earned my respect. So many young people seemed to want to know how to pleasure their way through life, not cleanse it.

Whether in the ancient days of the Psalmist or in this post-modern age, the answer is the same:

“By keeping to your words.”

The Bible it is unique among ancient books—it is up to this moment in truth. These are words here not only to be heard and read but to be kept.

The New Testament makes the most astounding claim—“We have the mind of Christ.”

We don’t have all of it but we have all we need. Not only the “How’s” but the “Why’s” are covered in the Book. God has communicated His heart to us in words, in saving deeds, and in human form by sending Jesus to show us how, and why to live.

Take the same gesture: palms uplifted to heaven, mouth and eyes open to all praise and possibilities and use a different word, no longer a question, “How?” but a confession of worship, “Hallelujah!”


Psalm 119:9-16
How shall a young man cleanse his way? By keeping to your words. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. I treasure your promise in my heart, that I may not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; instruct me in your statutes. With my lips will I recite all the judgments of your mouth. I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees than in all manner of riches. I will meditate on your commandments and give attention to your ways. My delight is in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 NIV
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 John 2:3-6; 18-19; 3:16-20; 23-24
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

2 Timothy 1:12 KJV
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Song of Knowing
I Know Whom I Have Believed
Text: Daniel W. Whittle; Music: James McGranahan 1883

1.I know not why God’s wondrous grace To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him against that day.”

2.I know not how this saving faith To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word Wrought peace within my heart.


3.I know not how the Spirit moves, Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word, Creating faith in Him.


4.I know not what of good or ill May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days, Before His face I see.


5.I know not when my Lord may come, At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him, Or meet Him in the air.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

Path of Life: "How?"

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