The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 8

In Exodus chapter 14 we read the story of the Israelites escaping from Egypt to go to the promised land.  But when they reach the Red sea, they seem trapped between the Egyptians chasing them from behind and the water stretched out in front.  Some people complain and say that they want to go back to Egypt, strangely to go back to their “old” normal life which was as mistreated slaves (v.11,12).  Moses tells them to not be afraid and to stand firm (v.13).  Then God instructs them to move on in His way and His time (v.15). 

Stand firm or hold firm and move on.

There is that lovely passage in Isaiah 40 v.31 which says

But those who wait (or expect or look) for the Lord and hope in Him, shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up close to God, as eagles mount up to the sun; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.  (Amplified version)

Again, hold firm, put hope in the Lord and move on. 

As we go through this lockdown you might be zooming around as eagles, or simply plodding on. 

The Executive director of HOPE Together, Rachel Jordan-Wolf, wrote these words, in reference to a verse from Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good”  

As we walk on in this lockdown, or as one family member recently said to me “plodding along” let us keep doing good even if it is a plod.  Plodding on your walk each day but turning it to prayer.  Plodding on in your Zoom mid-week group even when you’re all zoomed out.  Plodding on packing another food bank box wondering if the need will ever stop.  Plodding on as we mark one year since the start of the first national lockdown.  Together all our plodding is part of the solution as we follow a faithful God who patiently and faithfully never gives up on us.

Let us encourage each other to hold firm to God, and to keep plodding on!

Isaiah 40 again, v.27-31 this time in the Message version,

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

Living simply?


From Phillip - “A Simple Journey” based on Luke 4 v.1-13

During Jesus’ teaching ministry, he often attracted a large following.  Yet one thing he regularly did was to walk away from the crowds and his disciples in order to spend time alone.  We see this when immediately after his baptism, Jesus left the scene to spend forty days and nights on his own in the wilderness.  The idea of “wilderness” will conjure up different things in people’s minds.  For some in will be a barren landscape, for others a wild untamed place, but a wilderness experience is an experience that is spent alone in solitude.  Again “solitude” will summon up different ideas and emotions.  Some might see it as a great idea – a chance for a bit of peace and quiet.  Others though will be scared of spending time alone, as they are extroverts and enjoy the company of others.  For Jesus, getting away from others was not an end in itself, but a means of spending time alone with God; and this is the root of the Christian idea of solitude or retreat.  The theologian Henri Nouwen wrote,

Solitude is not a private therapeutic place.  Rather, it is the place of conversation, a place where the old self dies and the new self is born….  In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract….  We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone.  (Henri Nouwen – “The Way of the Heart”)

Another thing we notice about Jesus’ life is that he lived simply with no unnecessary baggage.  When the devil tempted him by offering him all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus rebuked him with the words, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” (v.8).   Jesus said elsewhere, in Luke 9 v.25, that it was so easy to “gain the world” yet “lose your soul”.  How many advertisements that surround us every day are about “gaining the world”.  How often are we tempted to buy yet more clothes, or upgrade to a better gadget or invest in a bigger car.  When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, in Luke chapter 10, he told them not to take a purse or bag or sandals.  It is not wrong for us to have a home, clothes and other possessions, but Jesus’ example should make us think about our own requirements and whether we actually need as many things as the world of adverts tells us we do.

There are two things that we usually think of about the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness - temptation and fasting, with the first temptation being a challenge to the fasting when the devil tempted him to turn stones into bread.  We can become fixated with the idea that fasting is all about going hungry and showing people how spiritual we are or attempting to force God into answering our prayers.  But really fasting is about who we are, or rather, whose are we?  It reminds us that, more than food, our lives are sustained by the word of God.  Notice how the devil temped Jesus, there was no mention of Jesus being hungry, but rather a challenge as to who (or whose) he was.  The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (v.3).  Then notice how in Jesus’ reply he puts his reliance in God, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (v.4).  Fasting usually involves giving up a meal or a particular food or drink, but there are other types of fast, such as in Isaiah chapter 58 which in the NIV has the heading “True Fasting”.  In the chapter God calls the people out for making a show out of their fasting while at the same time still doing as they please and exploiting all their workers.  Instead, God challenges them to “fast” by choosing to put injustice right. 

As we try to take a simple journey with Jesus, we should ask ourselves, what is it that we most rely on?  Is it money, possessions, or other people?  Where am I in danger of getting my identity from?  Is it from the food I eat, the things I read, the people I associate with?  Or could you “fast” in a positive way, by reaching out to a friend or stranger or standing up for injustice in the world.

Next week’s theme will be “A Sorrowful Journey” from the material
“Worship in the Wilderness – Journey with Jesus through the desert for Lent”
by Sara and Sam Hargreaves (founders of the Music and Worship Foundation).

Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 3rd March 7.15pm for 7.30pm start.

“Freedom from distractions”

All are welcome to join - please ask Laura for details.  Or if you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passages several times and consider the following questions.

  1. What distracts you when you come to God in prayer?

Read Acts 13 v.1-3, 14 v.21-23

  1. What do you notice about both passages and what happens?
  2. How would fasting have removed distractions and given more time for prayer?
  3. How can saying no to food remind us of our need to trust God?
  4. Reducing the number of distractions to allow more time for prayer is a way of saying yes to God.  Is this something you can do over Lent? 

Here is a prayer from the material,

Jesus, teach me to occasionally live with less,
to fast those things which distract me, or in which I am tempted to put my trust.
I know that you have the best for me and are leading me in the way of everlasting abundant life. Amen.


Our prayers this week come from the BU book – Gathering for Worship.

Our minds are so often full of words, and what is worse our hearts are often clogged up with thoughts and ideas as well, which leaves little room for meeting God in simplicity and stillness. So, this morning we will pause after each short prayer for each of us to add our own prayer.

First, let us take a little time to notice how many good things surround us, how much there is that we take for granted, and how much our lives have been blessed this last week with good people and enjoyable experiences.

Lord we pray now for some of those people and places in the news, things we will read in the newspapers today, or maybe have seen on our television screens during the week.  
We hold them now within God’s love.

We turn now to pray for the Church, Lord we lift to you those persecuted Christians around the

world, in particular Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped by Islamic militants Boko Haram from her school in northern Nigeria about three years ago.  We pray for our “Mission of the Month”
“Accommodation Concern”.  We also pray for our own church, particularly as we seek the way forward.  We ask for guidance and grace for the Church.

Lord there are many people struggling today with illness, or caring for others who are suffering, or facing major changes in life.  Praise you that your care for them is even greater than ours, but we lift to you those we love and have concern for.

Each of us have things on our mind, perhaps things we hesitate to mention to anyone else.  
But you, our heavenly Father, understand us totally, and want only the very best outcome for us.  Lord we bring you are deepest concerns and worries.

These, Lord, are the prayers of your people this morning.  We ask you to take each one of these prayers and answer them in your own time and in your own way.  And in the meantime, give us expectant and trustful hearts.

For Jesus’ sake. Amen

Songs for Sunday

My Jesus, my Saviour;
Lord there is none like You;
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of your Mighty love.
My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength,
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship You

Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down
And the seas will roar
At the sound of your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand;
Nothing compares to the
Promise I have in You

Darlene Zschech
© 1993 Hillsongs, Australia / Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

1. Seek ye the Lord, all ye people,
turn to Him while He is near;
let the wicked forsake his own way,
and call on Him while He may hear.
2. Ho, everyone who is thirsty,
come to the waters of life,
come and drink of the milk and the wine,
come without money and price.

And there is peace like a river
and glory divine,
if you'll come to the water,
if you'll taste of His wine.
There is love ever flowing
and joy ever full,
and there's life everlasting for us all.

Joan Parsons
© 1978 ThankYou Music  CCLI #5638


Friday 5th March - The World Day of Prayer is a global and ecumenical movement led by women and is a worldwide 24 hours of prayer.  This year it is prepared by the Women of the Republic of Vanuatu (located in the South Pacific Ocean).  Women, men and children of all ages are called to ‘Build on a strong foundation’ and live in unity, love and peace in the context of ethnic and cultural diversity like Vanuatu and so many other places around the world.  This year there is no church service in Kettering on the 5th, but all are welcome to join us for prayer (women and men) to be held over Zoom, at 7.30pm on Friday 5th March.  (Ask Laura for the codes to join).

Saturday 27th March - socially distanced spring clean of the building in the morning

Sunday 28th March - Morning service in our building on Palm Sunday

Sunday 4th April - Easter Sunday morning, we hope to hold a service outdoors on our car park, provided singing outdoors is allowed and the weather is reasonable

Listening to a recording of our audio service

If you have the internet, then go to our website ( where you will find a recording under the audio files.

If you are not on the internet, we have now paid to have a “Dial-a-Service” facility.  Telephone 01536 909787 and you will be able to listen to a recording of the service on your telephone. 
The cost, around 30p a call, is covered by the church.

Don’t forget our Facebook page always has some interesting things on as well.