A course correction – the right direction

The Lord has been speaking these same words “a course correction” to me over the last month or so. It has certainly got my attention and through various scriptures and pictures, I keep coming back to this theme of a “course correction”. As I have been reading and praying, I believe that the Lord is emphasising that whether it is on a personal level or even governmental and national – there is need of a “course correction”.

I have this sense that some may have gone “off course” in terms of following God, or in doing what God wants us to do in our lives or doing what is pleasing to Him. The degree of “course correction” required is going to vary depending on how far we have wandered from the right path or direction that God wants to take us. It could be just a small correction or adjustment to get us back on track or if we are going in the wrong direction entirely then it will mean a complete “U” turn – whether that is in terms of mindsets and/or behaviors to get back on track.

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For some I believe it means they will find the right way in God through Jesus for the first time. It will be a complete revelation of truth to them. They will hear the good news and receive the gospel and believe. There could be opposition, trouble and persecution to this new direction in life and for some people it will mean going in the opposite direction to those around you – people you may have journeyed through life with for a long time. There will be challenging times ahead but Jesus will journey with you and take you through.

You might be led to take a different path and for some there may be a literal parting of ways with certain people – this even happened with the Apostle Paul when he parted ways with Barnabas and they went in different directions in their missionary journey. I see this happening in certain ministries – people are going to part company but God will show the timing of this and trust Him to give you peace about the decision. It may mean for those who do not discern God’s hand and direction that there could be hurts along the way and difficulties to overcome, so I pray for God’s grace in these situations and a covering of protection of hearts & minds. That no root of bitterness will spring up or jealousy among fellow believers leading to disunity and trouble.

At the start of Covid 19 we certainly seemed to be having a time of “reset” and people took the opportunity of an enforced lockdown to review lots of aspects of their lives. Even Churches were not immune and had to review their practices and make changes to the way that they functioned in terms of meeting together, teaching & helping each other and their local communities. Lots of changes were made, there was innovation & new practices undertaken – but recently people seem to be wanting to get back to “normal”.

People are saying more and more that they can’t wait until things return to normal. I can understand this because there has been a lot of confusion and changes of rules/regulations and this has unsettled us -there are restrictions on our every day lives and we are longing for a return to normality, but I don’t think God wants us to return to the old “normal”. I believe God really wants us to embrace a course correction. God does not want us to return to old habits and ways of doing things especially if they were wrong. There is something better that God has for us.

The Lord first got my attention on a “course correction” with a reading in the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet in the Old Testament and in Chapter 2 he says “I will stand my watch and set myself on the ramparts and watch to see what He (God) will say to me and what I will answer when I am corrected“.

Habakkuk actively sought correction from God – he prepared himself to listen and receive it but in my experience (this may just be me) -we usually try and avoid correction or disciplining. I don’t think I have met anyone yet who really likes being disciplined and told they are wrong but it is good for us and its necessary. We can make wrong choices or we move and act impulsively or at the wrong time. God loves us and correcting us is a sign of His love for us – If we are children of God then it is a given that He will correct us. As a loving Father, God wants to correct us and show us when we are “off course”. God wants the best for us. He showed Habakkuk plainly – God said “write the vision and make it plain i.e. clear so that he may run who reads it” – in other words God speaks clearly to us through His word and shows us what is required for Godly living.

When I was thinking about this scripture from Habakkuk the Lord showed me a picture of a sail boat. It was just a small simple boat with a sail and a person sitting at the helm with his hand on the tiller. The tiller is the “course corrector” – without the tiller the boat would just go with the currents, the winds & tides which would dictate its course. However, the sailor constantly adjusts the pressure on the tiller to keep the boat going in the right direction. God is the tiller in our lives. There is always going to be a “wind” or a “current” in our lives which tries to influence us and take us in a certain direction. It’s identifying which is prevailing and influencing the direction of my life – is it culture, relationships, work, fears, lies, anxieties, my desires, my assumptions etc. there are so many things – or am I allowing the word of God and the breath of the Holy Spirit to lead me in the right way – with my eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s challenging to take time and ask God to identify what is truly influencing our decisions and the direction we are travelling.

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The good news is that Jesus comes to set us back on track if we are going the wrong way. Jesus set two of His followers back on the right course. In Luke 24 starting at verse 13, we read the story of two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas, who were travelling from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus. Both had been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified and were discussing everything that had happened with Jesus’ death and also the story that the women had told them that morning of Jesus’ tomb being empty. They were confused, sad and didn’t know what to believe. They had now left Jerusalem & the other believers – we are not told why- and were travelling to Emmaus – 7 miles away – going in the wrong direction. Jesus took the time to go and meet them on the road and explain the truth to them – he took them through the scriptures and explained the truth about the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament. These men both knew Jesus but they didn’t immediately recognise Jesus on the road but something compelled them not to let this “stranger” go on but to hear more from Him. The story ends with them doing a “U” turn and heading back to Jerusalem.

I love this story – Jesus shows His love and compassion as the good shepherd for these two followers. He actively seeks them out because they are headed in the wrong direction but they don’t realise it. They need to be in Jerusalem. They need to go back to where they headed out from. Jesus eventually reveals himself to them when they all sit down to eat & break bread together (this speaks to me of a time of intimacy and fellowship) and then immediately once they recognise Jesus it all makes sense – they get up and head back to Jerusalem – even though it is late at night to tell the rest of the disciples the good news – Jesus is alive – He has been resurrected.

This story made me think – What would have happened if those two followers had not returned to Jerusalem. Not only did they encourage and immediately witness about Jesus’ resurrection to the other disciples when they returned which must have had an impact especially when their story was verified when Jesus appeared again to all of them there, but I also think they could have missed out on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised His followers. It is not recorded in scripture, but I do believe those two men were part of those 120 who were recorded as gathered in the upper room in the Acts of the Apostles and received the infilling and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not want them to miss out on the fullness of what He had promised and it’s the same for you and I today. Jesus does not want us to miss out on the fullness of what He died and rose from death to give us – life in all its abundance.

I think Jesus wants to cause an intervention in some lives to get us back on track. We hear of “interventions” being made in secular terms – someone might be in a desperate situation and there has to be an “intervention” by friends or authorities to get them to stop and change – to get them to realise truth. Jesus does the same and the New Testament is full of stories of Jesus intervening in people’s lives and totally changing them and their circumstances. The apostle Paul is another example who comes to mind- Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus and totally changes the direction of his life – instead of persecuting and killing Christians as Saul – he becomes Paul – a believer and follower of Christ who becomes a witness of Jesus – an apostle and missionary.

Isaiah 55 v 7 says “Let the wicked forsake his way, …….Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God for He will abundantly pardon”. The good news of Jesus is that salvation -believing in Jesus and accepting Him into our lives – the biggest course corrector to lead us back into fellowship with God – is available to everyone. Repenting means doing a “U” turn – a “turn around” – turning away from our former sinful and self-centered lives – and following Jesus as a disciple. It is not too late to make that decision to get off the wide path that Jesus says leads to destruction and instead choose to take the narrow path which Jesus guides us to and puts our feet on – the path of salvation and to eternal life with God. Restoration in all its fullness.

And what of those of us who are followers of Christ already- where could we possible need a course correction. Jesus speaks to the churches in Revelation and showed them some course corrections needed -Firstly – the church who had forgotten their first love. I was really convicted of this recently – My love for Jesus – it needed rekindling. My passion for Him as I had at first as a young believer – when I first came to know Him and love Him. Those verses in Revelation 2:4 spoke right into my heart “I have this against you – that you have left your first love”. Remember from where you have fallen – repent – a course corrector – it’s always first and foremost about Jesus. It’s about our relationship with Him. It’s not what we do but why we do it – Jesus is the reason – our love for Him.

It’s not just losing our first love, Jesus also points out in these early chapters of Revelation the churches who are tolerating immorality, idolatry, false teachings, tolerating false prophets, the indifferent church – neither hot nor cold and the dead church – having a name for being alive but actually dead. Jesus has words of correction to all these churches but also words of encouragement to keep the churches on the right paths of His presence and teachings. To help them get back on track and overcome all trials and temptations just as Jesus did – with His guidance and the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us. We, who are the Church – the body of Christ – a living, breathing body with Christ as our head need to take these words of Jesus on board – They are relevant to these times that we are living in. What is Jesus saying to His church today – what words of correction is He bringing to us.

I pray that this blog will be an encouragement, challenge and help to you. It may resonate with you and may you be blessed in Jesus’ precious name.

God’s love

In church today we were singing a song about God’s love for us, how overwhelming and awesome it is. I felt God say that some people need a fresh understanding of His love. We expect it to be a feel good, warm feeling all the time but God’s love also disciplines us and corrects us when we need it.

The bible says that we know we are his children because he disciplines us. God’s love expressed itself in the purest way when Christ died on the Cross and it requires us to bring death to our flesh. It can even require some things in our lives to be cut off, wither and die. God’s love will discipline and corrects us when we need it. Hebrews 12 v 3-11 tells us this.

When this happens and we are going through a time of discipline it is painful, uncomfortable, frustrating and doesn’t feel good. We can be confused, discouraged and start to think all sorts of wrong things and can lose our way. Don’t be discouraged and don’t try to short cut the process otherwise Paul tells us we will miss the fruit of righteousness that this process will produce in us.

God wants to encourage you today. If you are in a difficult season then you may be experiencing God’s love being expressed in this way. Ask God to reveal to you what is happening in your life. If you are going through a period of discipline or pruning then hold on firm to the truth. Reject any lie that says if God loved you then you wouldn’t be feeling like this or going through this. God is love and He loves you. Submit to Him and let Him bring His good work in you to fruition so that you can grow and mature in your faith. Hold on fast to the truth which is the Word of God and don’t be swayed by feelings or what is happening around you. Ask other christians to support you in prayer during this time. Strengthen yourself in God and in His Word.