News and Info

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Holding on in Faith and a Good Conscience



“Holding on in Faith and a Good Conscience”
I Timothy 1:3-7, 18-20

            As we continue to reflect on God as the True North- using navigational terms to define and describe God and our relationship with him, it is important to focus on the goal which helps us to ‘navigate this life’. This goal is love which comes from “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Love is the supreme priority for God’s people. Love God- heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:29-31)
            The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer at the moment of conversion. But the conscience is not just God’s Spirit, it is a part of our humanity given to both believers and non-believers. It is the inner ability that tests and judges our thoughts and actions our ideas of right and wrong. It is affected by sin and needs to be protected and cultivated in order to keep us focused on God. A healthy conscience serves as a moral compass. But it does have limitations-because of the nature of sin and because we are not naturally pulled to God’s will but to our desires and indulgences. We cannot just follow a compass, we push it where we want it to go and then recalculate where we are moving towards.
            The primary function of our conscience is to serve as a course deviation monitor. It tells us when our thinking or actions are off course and causes us to wrestle with our choices and motives. Thus the conscience needs to be sensitive to God’s Spirit and truth. We need to actively maintain a healthy conscience. 1) Needs to be cleansed; we need to renew our acknowledgement of guilt and receive forgiveness; 2) needs instruction—to know Scripture and Christ’s teachings;  3) to be carefully protected-to share your faith with gentleness and respect
            Life would be simpler if all we needed to do was choose our destination, set an automatic pilot, and then sit back and enjoy the ride. But it doesn’t happen this way. We chose our destination, either intentionally or not. Life consists of millions of chices that either keep us on the right path or take us in another direction. God has given us the conscience but it is limited so let us care for it.

            REFLECTION:  Jiminy Cricket’s song “Give a Little Whistle” focuses on letting the conscience being one’s guide. Do you ever think in term’s of your conscience as your guidance system for your life? Do you care for it and what your mind really comes in contact with? Or do you sort of float day to day wondering how to deal with the next challenge without and conscious or conscience thinking? For those who believe, God is the One who is the guide but our conscience can help us only if we carefully cleanse, protect and instruct who we are and what we are called to be. Just what is your conscience telling you ?

PRAYER
Wonderful God you give us mind, heart, and soul and we often do not even recognize these gifts are from you. Help us to be aware and enable our conscience to know who you are and can be as we live this earthly life. Call upon us as we strive to navigate through this life and prepare ourselves to walk with you. Show us your way O God . Amen,

This reflection is based upon some ideas offered by Gary Inrig in his book, True North: Discovering God’s Way in a Changing World,  Discovery House Publishers, 2002; ch.5

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Prayer-Our Spiritual Ballast



Prayer-Our Spiritual Ballast

Sailboats are designed on the principle that there must be more  This principle is also a law of life. A sailboat without ballast is safe only when it is tied to the dock in harbour. People without a ballast are stable only when life is safe and unchanging.  Prayer is our spiritual ballast when it comes to navigating life.  The Bible is God’s compass which points us in the right direction but only a living relationship with our Lord, nurtured and deepened by prayer will keep us upright in the storm.
weight below the waterline than above it. It the boat encounters violent storms and wind, the ship will right itself as long as the weight of the keel is attached.
Hebrews 4:14-16.. “we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess… Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
When we pray, we pray to the living God, who ahs become like us; Jesus became human and he understands and identifies with us. But Jesus also cares for us, empowers u and intervenes on our behalf. We are given three encouragements to come to Him in prayer, because He is our completely capable High Priest.
1)      Knowing who the great high priest really is; Jesus- who meets the deepest needs of every heart and fits every human need; He is the answer to all our questions, the satisfaction of all our wants, the bread for all our hunger, the light in our darkens, the strength in our weakness and the medicine for our sickness, the life for our death. (p.74).
2)      Understanding this High Priest- Jesus offered prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to God who could save him from death; Jesus suffered pain, exhaustion and hunger. He experienced grief, fear, shame, rejection, aloneness, misunderstanding and opposition, mistreatment and misrepresentation, adulation and animosity. Jesus experienced what we do—he understands.
3)      Gracious High Priest—let us keep drawing near to the presence of God; the throne of grace where God dwells and grace characterizes the One who sits on the throne. We are to approach the throne of grace “with confidence”.
Pray- to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

           Effective prayer relies upon the willing power of God. We have a confidence inspired by the work of Jesus. When we pray we come to the throne of grace with our need to find God who responds. We align ourselves with God’s purposes and find ourselves gaining a perspective on reality that reorders our entire understanding of life. When we pray we draw close to God in humility and dependence and begin to discover life as stated by James 4:6-8. God opposes the proud, but gives grace o the humble, Submit yourselves then to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. (p.67-80)
.”
            REFLECTION: How strong is your prayer connection with God? Would you consider your prayer a ballast that is in a sailboat and can return the boat upright? Does your prayer time include “I wants” more than Thank you. How strong is your prayer life today?
            In reading Hebrews 4 does knowing Jesus experience a human life like ours bring you closer to God the Father? How? Why?

PRAYER
Holy God as we reflect on Jesus as the great High priest enable us to realize who he really is. Show us your way, your life and enable us to holy on to you. Amen.

This reflection is based upon some ideas offered by Gary Inrig in his book, True North: Discovering God’s Way in a Changing World,  Discovery House Publishers, 2002; ch.4

Canadian Bible Society presents “Bible Week” resources for October and November 2014.This is a seven day focus on God’s Word for churches and individuals. Each day, walk through a short devotion designed to help you appreciate God’s Word and to take action. To register for free go to biblesociety.ca/bible-week.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Bible- A Tool for Navigating Life



The Bible- A Tool for Navigating Life

“Life in the modern world is like trying to navigate an uncharted,
rapidly changing, unpredictable ocean. We have sailed off the edge of our maps.”(p. 53) We need to have a fixed unchanging reference point. For navigation it is the North Star. For believers, it is God, made known to us in Jesus Christ. As Christians we know that the Bible enables us to reach our God intended destination. But it is true that we need more than knowledge of it as a tool, we need to use properly. And we need to adopt the attitude of Jesus to scripture so that we may shape our attitude to God’s Word.
The Bible focuses on the central theme of Jesus- with his teaching, choices and suffering. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he encounters Satan and through this we learn of Jesus’ uniqueness. His focus is on ministry and teaching and avoids temptation using scripture to lead and guide him. But mostly Jesus trusts. The third navigational principle is trusting God.
But how does one navigate life using the Bible- God’s Word?
1) requires a deep confidence in the scripture and that it has an enduring authority
2) requires a working knowledge of God’s Word; how does the meaning of
 scripture determine significance in one’s life.
3)requires a lifestyle of obedience to the Word of God

Psalm 119:9, 11:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word...
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Knowing the words of scripture includes memorizing key passages. But it not enough to know the words, we need to steer by it. James 1:22   “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”




REFLECTION:
Many families who are Christian have several copies of the Bible in their homes. Yet, few family members actually take time to read the Bible or listen to Bible stories on a regular basis. Few children and young people are unsure of the stories of creation. Fall, or Jesus’ life and death. Do you think this has bearing on what is happening in our world today where there seems to be a clear path or direction displayed in our everyday living? How might this be changed?
Reflect on navigating God’s Word and the requirements to do this noted above. How does your reading the Bible help you where you are right now in your life?

PRAYER
The words of life seem to be disappearing from ur vocabulary. Help us to pick up copies of the bible for our own use and navigation. Show us your Word for us today. Amen..

This reflection is based upon some ideas offered by Gary Inrig in his book, True North: Discovering God’s Way in a Changing World,  Discovery House Publishers, 2002; ch.3

Canadian Bible Society presents “Bible Week” resources for October and November 2014.This is a seven day focus on God’s Word for churches and individuals. Each day, walk through a short devotion designed to help you appreciate God’s Word and to take action. To register for free go to biblesociety.ca/bible-week

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Faithful to the North Star



Faithful to the North Star

Job is a person of impeccable character, a man of integrity, a person
of substance and a man with a vigorous and authentic spiritual life, combined with a deep concern for his family. He is a pillar of moral integrity, a model of spiritual authenticity and a recognized and respected success. People admired and God marked out as special.
But then suddenly, unpredictably everything changes. From his perspective one disaster follows another and tears apart his life. He does not realize the reasons why. But God and the evil one are in conflict and Job is central to it. Job loses everything he once had as important. Then eventually he also becomes ill. He is in much pain and is socially isolated. He is reduced to a beggar-like existence and his life seems to be hopeless.
Many people suffer many different things like Job. Few have suffered all that he did but each of us can identify with the feeling of being far out at sea in a life-threatening storm with no familiar landmarks in sight.
Sailors of old would not venture out beyond the sight of land as they could very well be confused as to where they were. It was not until these sailors looked up and saw the stars and their patterns and brightness that they realized that they could go out a lit further into the oceans. The stars would guide them and particularly the North Star, Polaris, would be their point of reference wherever they traveled.
If God’s purpose is to magnify His glory, Satan’s purpose is to defame God and glory. So why does Job serve God? Why do the righteous serve God? Why do we call ourselves the children of God? Because God is our North Star no matter what we experience or where we go. We can take our bearings from God so that we can carry on and live for him. Job knows God well before the crises hit. He draw upon a lifetime of worshiping and walking with God. At one of the lowest moments of this time, Job doesn’t walk away but gets up, tears his robe and shaves his head as a sign of mourning and respect. He then fell to the ground and worshiped God. He trusts God, his North Star to lead his life even in times of trial. And Job knows God.
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. … I will see him … How my heart yearns within me.” Job 19:25-27
Do you follow the North Star—the triune God revealed in Jesus Christ.  .Jesus is the fixed point, the North Star.. “The bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16) He should be the fixed reference point by which each of us determines our location and direction.

REFLECTION:
Have you ever seen the North Star in all its brilliance in the sky? How is Jesus like this guiding star for your life? How would you improve this understanding for yourself that is growing in knowledge that Jesus does lead and guide you?

PRAYER
Wonderful God of love enable us to truly say, “I know that my Redeemer lives” with our whole heart and mind. Enable us to know that we truly belong to you.
Hear us O God as we pray and offer our lives to you. Amen.

This reflection is based upon some ideas offered by Gary Inrig in his book, True North: Discovering God’s Way in a Changing World,  Discovery House Publishers, 2002; ch.2

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Navigating God’s Way in a Changing World



Navigating God’s Way in a Changing World

“Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch” Luke 5

            We are navigating a new world each day. Unlike the explorers of
old who searched for a safe passage to the west and whose maps were outdated, our navigating takes place in a world where information is at our fingertips in mere seconds. Yet the new world is a world where what was once considered clear and understood is no longer accepted and even questioned. Whether this is ethically correct or not one must realize that Magellan really did not know how large the Pacific Ocean was until he was in the ship trying to find the other side of it.
            Our lives take us through new journeys each day. Some days are similar to others but if we only have so many of years months and days allotted to us why not make the most of each one?!
            In Luke 5 Jesus challenged the fishermen after they had not caught any fish with their nets out overnight. Jesus challenged Simon to go out a little further into the lake where the water was deeper and let down the nets for a catch. They did this right away and they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to help and the both boats were full. Simon Peter and his companions were astonished at this and fell at Jesus’ feet. Jesus said to Simon, Don’t be afraid from now on you will catch men. The fishermen went up on shore and left everything and followed Jesus.
            In this action, Jesus calls the first disciples and he enlists ordinary human begins to become agents of His kingdom in the sphere of influence where they are. This is the way the Lord works in the lives of His followers in every time and place. To Simon Peter he said, “Put out into deep water”. Then he told the others, “Let down the nets” Why did Simon Peter and the other disciples listen to him? Jesus was a carpenter. How did he know where the fish were or did he get them to swim there???
            When they saw the catch of fish these fishermen and Simon Peter knew something was up. And when Jesus said, “Follow me and you will catch men,” he and his companions went to shore, and followed Jesus. Until this moment, Peter’s world was not much bigger than the lake he fished. His future was in fish but now it was with Jesus. As a follower of Jesus Peter allowed Jesus to establish his destination. Peter like any traveler asked, Where do I want to go? Where am I now?  And he answered Jesus and followed.
            Peter also followed Jesus where he was taught to navigate his future—with Him and to rely on Jesus for learning and all his basic needs. As a follower of Jesus, he also came to know Jesus and what his purpose was. Jesus changed Peter within and through this transformation Peter became most faithful.
           
REFLECTION:
Do you believe we are living in uncharted territory as we continue in our life’s journey in this time? What causes  you to think this?
Peter and his companions were challenged to go into deeper water and let out their nets. They did catch fish but they also caught more than this. What else do you think they learned with Jesus calling out to them?

Disciples of Jesus: allow the Lord to establish the destination
                               practice navigating through unchartered territories
                               care about who they are in Christ
Do you agree with these statements which describe disciples of Jesus?

PRAYER
Holy God of love we thank you that Jesus is the one who leads us through this changing times if we truly enable Him to establish our destination. We pray O God that we may navigate our way through faithful living what it means to be a disciple in Jesus. Show us what this means as we seek to understand Jesus as our Navigator and Compass in our lives. Amen.

This reflection is based upon some ideas offered by Gary Inrig in his book, True North: Discovering God’s Way in a Changing World,  Discovery House Publishers, 2002; ch.1