Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 20

Welcome to the next chapter, here’s another serving of food for thought.  I am wondering today what food you have eaten during lockdown?  Has your diet changed from your “normal” fare?  Are any of you on a “sea food” diet or should that be a see-food diet?  “What food you see you eat”.  That joke works better when not written down!  Some people have said they put on weight during the lockdown and the government are now starting a drive against obesity with advice on what to avoid.  It matters what we eat, and we will feel the effects if we eat too much of the unhealthy stuff. 

How has your spiritual diet been?  And I don’t mean the joke of “I’m on a religious diet, I eat what I want and pray I don’t put on weight!”  Seriously what we feed on with our minds and hearts impacts us, and those we talk to.  If you focus on the negatives and are all “doom and gloom” you will pass that on to any you talk to.  We all need to study God’s word and to pray to feed our minds, hearts and souls with God given nourishment.  Then we can live as people of hope.

In the lockdown some of you were eating on your own spiritually or having takeaways through this chapter, services on the internet or radio or TV.  Now some of us are managing to eat together spiritually on a Sunday morning, it is not a full meal since we cannot sing together, but we can be still fed by God and encourage our fellowship whether in the building or elsewhere. 

We have restarted prayer meetings at 10am on Thursday mornings at Church.  Usual Sunday morning rules of masks, hand sanitising and distancing apply.  All are welcome to join us for around 15 minutes, but sorry, we cannot offer coffee or use of the facilities (just yet!).


Reflection

From Laura on Moses and Israelites in Egypt

“God sees us in lockdown” Exodus 3 v.1-10

Last week we looked at Joseph and his family and ended at the point where the whole tribe of the Hebrews had migrated to Egypt.  Initially life was good for them, but it was lockdown for the next generation.  They were forced to be slaves of the Egyptians and cruelly treated.  Living under the lockdown rules included the edict that baby boys should be drowned in the Nile.

One of those babies was Moses whose parents kept him hidden for 3 months against government guidelines.  Many of us will know this story from Sunday school, the story of the baby in the bulrushes who was miraculously found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter (story in Exodus chapter 2).  But it is easy to forget the pain and worry that his family must have gone through and the risk they took amid the oppressive regime.  Pharaoh was a dictator who enforced control over people’s lives.

Moses grew up out of lockdown in the palace, he was educated and comfortable.  Yet he did not forget his own people.  Moses was clearly a compassionate, but impetuous, young man.  When he was grown up, he killed an Egyptian whom he found beating a Hebrew slave.  Moses was then a wanted man and had to flee for own his life to the land of Midian.

The passage for today describes events many years later, it mentions that those who were seeking the death of Moses had died.  The Hebrews were still suffering in the cruel lockdown.  Moses was now married and had started a new life as a shepherd, looking after the flock of his father-in-law.  For Moses this was the new normal.

In the middle of his daily routine God appeared to him when his attention was caught by a burning bush (another well-known story, Exodus chapter 3).  In the Bible an unusual fire or light often announces God’s presence.  Forget the discussion as to how it was burning and not going up in flames, the important point to note is that God chose the place, the time and the incredible event to get Moses’ attention, resulting in Moses properly meeting God for the first time in his life and being called for a decisive ministry.  In those days removing one’s sandals was a sign of respect on entering someone’s home or territory.  Moses removed his sandals and thus acknowledged the presence of God in that place.

God introduced himself as the God of his father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Then in verses 7-9 comes the amazing statement that God has seen his people in lockdown.  More than that God has heard their cries of misery, has seen their plight, is concerned, and is going to do something about it.  We do not have a God who watches from a distance, but a God who sees what we are going through.  We have a God who is involved with his people who hears their prayers and who takes action.  For the descendants of Jacob things were going to change and there was hope of better things to come for them in their own homeland.  Some of Hebrews must have wondered where God was, had he forgotten them, why dd he not do something, did he not care?  They needed to know that God’s delay did not mean lack of care.  God had seen them and had his perfect timing for the exodus out of lockdown.  Whether it was that Moses was not ready before this for the task that lay ahead of him or that he was no longer in trouble or another reason - we will never know.  But we do know that when the right time came God immediately started to act. 

For Moses, God promised that “I will be with you” (v.12 if you read on).  For those suffering in lockdown they now had the message that they were not forgotten; that God had seen them and had compassion. 

Whether we are still shielding or coming out of lockdown or self-isolating, God sees us, and we are not forgotten.  He sees everything we do as it says in Psalm 139

Psalm 139:1-4

1  O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 
2  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
3  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 
4  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 

Next week we will continue looking at Biblical situations of lockdown
by looking at the story of Gideon - “God speaks in lockdown” Judges 6 v.6-14


Songs for Sunday

1. All the way my Saviour leads me;
what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know what’er befall me
Jesus doeth all things well.

2. All the way my Saviour leads me,
cheers each winding path I tread,
gives me grace for every trail,
feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
and my soul a-thirst may be,
gushing from a rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.

3. And all the way my Saviour leads me,
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
in my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed, immortal,
wings its flight to realms of day,
this my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way!

Frances Jane van Alstyne,
(Fanny J Crosby)  (1820-1915)

CCLI #5638

  1. Safe in the shadow of the Lord
    beneath His hand and power,
    I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
    my fortress and my tower.
     
  2. My hope is set on God alone
    though Satan spreads his snare;
    I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
    to keep me in His care.
     
  3. From fears and phantoms of the night,
    from foes about my way,
    I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
    by darkness as by day.
     
  4. His holy angels keep my feet
    secure from every stone;
    I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
    and unafraid go on.
     
  5. Strong in the Everlasting Name,
    and in my Father’s care,
    I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
    who hears and answers prayer.
     
  6. Safe in the Shadow of the Lord,
    possessed by love divine,
    I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
    and meet His love with mine.

Based on Psalm 91
Timothy Dudley-Smith (b 1926)
©Jubilate Hymns CCLI #5638


August Prayer Diary

The August RRBC prayer diary comes with this chapter, thanks Margaret for all you do in producing this. 

We are also asked to pray for “Kings Heath” church at Northampton, minister Rev Rodger Woods, plus I have missed putting on the Mission of the month though they have been covered by the prayer diary.  So over the next few weeks I will also add in the ones we have missed.  This week please pray for the work of “Open Doors” and the persecuted church.


Prayers

From Gathering for Worship,
Baptist Union of Great Britain

God of kindness,
you gave your only Son,
because you loved the world so much.
We pray for the peace of the world.
Move among us by your Spirit,
break down barriers
of fear, suspicion, and hatred.
Heal the human family of its divisions
and unite it in the bonds of justice and peace.

We pray for our country.
Enrich our common life;
strengthen the forces of truth and goodness;
teach us to share prosperity,
that those whose lives are impoverished
may pass from need and despair
to dignity and joy.

We pray for those who suffer.
Surround them with your love,
support them with your strength,
console them with your comfort,
and give them hope
and courage beyond themselves.

We pray for our families,
for those whom we love.
Protect them at home;
support them in times of difficulty and anxiety,
that they may grow together
in mutual love and understanding,
and rest content in one another

We pray for the Church.
Keep her true to the Gospel
and responsive to the gifts and needs of all.
Make known your saving power in Jesus Christ
by the witness of her faith,
her worship and her life.  Amen


Bible Study

On Wednesday 5th August  at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start, all are welcome to join in and if you do not have internet you can join us over the phone.

We are continuing a series called Meeting God in Waiting.

The passage is Psalm 33 v.20-22.  “Waiting for God”,

If you have a phone and want to join in the Bible Study - then you can. 

  • You ring either of these phone numbers, 0131 460 1196 or 0203 481 5237
  • Then you will be asked to enter the meeting ID 429 588 385 followed by #
  • Then you will need to enter a passcode, again followed by #
  • Please let me know beforehand if you want to join in and I will let you have the
    necessary passcode

If you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passage several times and consider the following points.

  1. Think of two or three times when you have experienced a season of difficult waiting, what sustained your hope during that time?
  2. What does the psalmist say about waiting and about hope?
  3. What does the psalmist say about God?
  4. Read the whole Psalm to put the verses in context, what responses are you
    experiencing as you let the words of the psalm speak to you?
  5. What message does God have for you today?

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26