Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Cycling along some of the lanes around where we live it is noticeable that the nettles and brambles are creeping closer, for on some stretches we can no longer cycle side by side.  In fact, in some places, the only way to avoid getting nettled or scratched is to keep doggedly in the centre which is easier said than done when there are overhanging tree branches to avoid as well.  The biggest danger for me is swerving to miss a nettle on one side and ending up clipping the bramble on the other – ouch.  The best thing is to keep my eyes fixed on the road ahead. 

Following the advice in Proverbs 4 v.25-27 is sensible for any journey, physical or spiritual,

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. 
Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Not getting distracted and losing concentration is important as we travel through life as Christians.  The chorus “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” is good advice, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus as individuals and as a fellowship.  As we start services again and think through going forward as a fellowship let us be open to God’s guiding and follow his way ahead. 

Be encouraged by the words from Hebrews chapter 12 v.1-3,

“ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Services in church start again
Sunday 5th July at 10.45

We won’t at first be returning to a full hour’s service, for one thing we are not allowed at present to sing.  But we will have a shorter service of worship, reading, reflection and prayer.

The inside of the church looks a little different now, although not quite as much as in the cartoon! 

The seating has been rearranged in line with social distancing rules, there will be hand sanitiser placed inside the door and a reminder not to move around the building too much.  There won’t be coffee in the hall at the end of the service and instead we will leave through the front door. 

I appreciate that not everybody will want to or feel able to return straight away.  For those reasons I intend to continue with these weekly chapter of our epistle, and will have a service available for you to listen to on the church website at


From Phillip on Romans 5 v.1-11

Symbols of our Faith – The Cross

Every Christian is familiar with the symbol of the cross.  Rockingham Road Baptist Church has a large cross on the outside of the building and other smaller crosses inside.  Yet I wonder if familiarity with the cross causes us to forget what it is all about.  It is through the cross that we have atonement for sin and are put right with God. 

Atonement is one of those theological phrases, which is quite deep, yet at its simplest means “at-one-ment” - that is to say, a bringing together of those who are apart.  In our natural state we are apart from God, but through the cross we have atonement for our sins.  We are at-one with God, we have been reconciled with Him.  Now unlike perhaps atonement, reconciliation is a word that is used in everyday speech.  For example, we long for reconciliation in the Middle East; that the hostility that exists between Israel and the Palestinians would be reconciled.  Similarly, we who by nature were apart from God have been reconciled through the cross.  As it said in the reading in Romans 5, v10, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son.  As sinners we were enemies of God.  God, because of his holy character, is opposed to that which is sinful and unholy.  The death of Christ did away with the cause of God’s anger by taking away our sin.  We have been reconciled to God, the root cause of the separation between us and God has been removed and our attitude towards God has been changed.  God has always loved us, and still loves us, but his wrath, the feeling and anger that God
has towards sin has gone.  Carried away by Christ on the cross. 

As sinners we need a saviour.  We need someone who will redeem us, will set us free, and that is what Jesus has done.  The price is paid, is what we sing in the hymn by Graham Kendrick, and that is what Jesus has done.  Just as the item in the pawn-brokers shop needs to be redeemed by its owner, so Jesus by his death has redeemed us and restored us to God.  His death is that perfect sacrifice that covers over our sins.  We sometimes talk about being washed in the blood of the lamb and I know that is language that causes some to cringe.  Yet that is what happened on the cross.  When you accept what Jesus has done for you and welcome him into your life, then God doesn’t notice the dirt on you, for there is none there, your sins have been washed in the blood of Jesus.

In the cross we see the nature and character of God’s love.  We live in a world which is acutely aware of pain, suffering and misery.  No one is interested in a God who is aloof and untouched by human need, or even in a God who might save sinners from a distance.  In the cross of Jesus, the words, “God is love”, take on concrete expression.  People will believe a demonstration of love in action before they will believe a person who declares it only in words.  God’s love for us is no idle expression.  As John writes in the first letter of John,
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  John 3 v16

God, in Jesus Christ, became involved in this life.  He assumed its burdens and entered fully into its tragedies.  Finally, he took on the full responsibility for this life by becoming sin for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
(2 Cor 5 v21).  Through the cross, through the atonement, we know dramatically that God is not indifferent to our tragedy and suffering.  “Why is the cross so important?”  it is because through the cross we see the enormity of God’s love.  As Thomas Kelly puts it in his hymn, Inscribed upon the cross we see in shining letters ‘God is love’.

Songs for Sunday

  1. The price is paid, come, let us enter in
    To all that Jesus died to make our own.
    For every sin more than enough He gave,
    And bought our freedom from each guilty stain.

The price is paid, Alleluia
Amazing grace, so strong and sure!
And so with all my heart,
my life in every part,
I live to thank You for the price You paid.

  1. The price is paid, see Satan flee away
    For Jesus, crucified, destroyed his power.
    No more to pay!  Let accusation cease:
    In Christ there is no condemnation now!
    The price is paid, …
  2. The price is paid, and by that scourging cruel,
    He took our sicknesses as if His own.
    And by His wounds,
    His body broken there,
    His healing touch may now
    by faith be known.
    The price is paid, …
  3. The price is paid, `Worthy the Lamb!' we cry -
    Eternity shall never cease His praise.
    The Church of Christ
    shall rule upon the earth:
    In Jesus' name we have authority!
    The price is paid, …

Graham Kendrick
© 1983 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music CCLI #5638

1. We sing the praise of Him who died,
of Him who died upon the cross;
the sinner’s hope let men deride,
for this we count the world but lost.

2. Inscribed upon the cross we see,
in shinning letters ‘God is Love’;
He bears our sins upon the tree,
He brings us mercy from above.

3. The cross! It takes our guilt away,
it holds the fainting spirit up;
it cheers with hope the gloomy day
and sweetens every bitter cup.

4. It makes the coward spirit brave,
and nerves the feeble arm for fight;
it takes its terror from the grave,
and gilds the bed of death with light.

5. The balm of life, the cure of woe,
the measure and the pledge of love;
the sinners’ refuge here below,
the angels’ theme in heaven above.

Thomas Kelly (1769 – 1855) CCLI #5638

In next week’s Reflection we will be thinking about
the symbol of The Fish, the passage is Matthew 4 v.18 to 22

There is no Bible Study on Wednesday 8th July,
the next one will be on 15th July


Gracious God
rejoicing in your blessings,
trusting in your loving care for all,
we bring to you our prayers for the world.
We pray for the created world:
for those who rebuild where things
have been destroyed;
for those who fight hunger poverty and disease including Covid 19;
for those who have power to bring change for the better and to renew hope.
In the life of our world,
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for our country:
for those in leadership who frame our laws and shape our common life;
who keep the peace and administer justice;
for those who teach and those who heal
for all who serve the community
especially for those seeking to navigate the way out of lock down.
In the life of our land
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for people in need:
those for whom life seems very difficult;
those whose lives are clouded
by death or loss, by pain or disability,
for those struggling against discouragement or fear resulting from the current situation.
We pray for those mourning the loss of loved ones or worried about those dear to them.
In the lives of those in need
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for those in the circle of friendship and love around us:
children and parents; sisters and brothers,
friends and neighbours; and for those especially in our thoughts today …
In the lives of those we love
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for this our church
and the church worldwide
in its stand with the poor, in its love for the outcast and the ashamed,
in its service to the sick and the neglected, in its proclamation of the Gospel,
in this land and in this place.
Grant wisdom and guidance to your people.
In the life of your church
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

Eternal God: hear these our prayers,
the spoken and the silent,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be all praise and glory for ever.   Amen

Ecclesiastically Correct Toilets?