Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 22

I understand there is a plaque in Hereford Cathedral with the inscription, “Built to Glory of God and for future generations”. That sounds like a good reason for the building of any church.  We are there to give God praise and to spread the good news to the lost of all ages.

This idea is in Psalm 89, verses 1 & 2,

I will sing of the LORD'S great love for ever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm for ever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

Another way to put it is that we are part of a relay race, running as best we can but seeking to pass on the baton to those who come next.  Our lives should give Glory to God and to spread the gospel.  We are not part of a museum but a living body.  We are the people that God has called and wants to work in and through.  So, let us be alert to God’s calling - not centred on our own wants.  The way we live is important, does your life reflect your faith in God?

Have you ever come across the following?


Reflection: Biblical situations of lockdown

From Laura on the story of David fleeing from Absalom

“Getting right with God in lockdown” Psalm 3

This psalm has the heading “A psalm of David.  When he fled from his son Absalom”.  A tragic story of a dysfunctional family resulting in the rebellion of Absalom (you will find the story in 2 Samuel chapters 15-17).  Absalom had fled after killing one of his brothers (that is another story).  He eventually returned to Jerusalem, but King David did not want to see his son Absalom, though his heart yearned for him.  David’s head said one thing and his heart another. 

Absalom was a very handsome young man who became frustrated at the situation.  Over time he undermined David’s rule and won the hearts of the people away from his father.  After four years Absalom gained a strong enough following to be proclaimed king and he sought to get rid of David.

Life was falling apart for David; he was threatened with losing everything he had accomplished.  He had to flee for his life and taking some loyal followers with him he left Jerusalem at night.  Travelling around 60 miles he went into lockdown in the city of Mahanaim.  He had to rely on others for providing for his needs and giving him advice.  He was literally shielding since his men would not allow him to go into battle against Absalom and his army.  All David could do was wait until there was news of the end of his lockdown.

Psalm 3 is set at this exceptionally low point in David’s reign as he was facing the possibility of disaster.  Verses 1 & 2 describe the valley he is in, the valley of fear and opposition.  David is honest before God in naming the issues.  There are the many enemies with a rising tide of disloyalty.  The accusing whispers of those around saying it is hopeless, God had deserted you

and you are doomed.  David had not been the perfect father; he had done things wrong.  Others were saying, and he was probably saying it to himself, I’ve blown it, God won’t deliver me.  But instead of letting such fears destroy his faith David brought them to God.

The author Brian McLaren speaks of the value of calling out to God for help.  “When we call out for help, we are bound more powerfully to God through our needs and weakness, our unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and our anxieties and problems than we ever could have been through our joys, successes, and strengths alone”.  He speaks of anxieties that “descend on our whole horizon like fog”.  He usefully suggests that as we name our anxieties before God, “we distil them into requests.  What covered the whole sky can now be contained in a couple of buckets”. 

Along with our anxieties, we can also bring our hurts and disappointments to God.  If anxieties focus on what might happen, and hurts focus on what has happened, disappointments focus on what has not happened.  Simply acknowledging or naming our hurts and disappointments to God is an important step.  It is getting things into balance and being right with God.

Verses 3-7 describe the mountaintop that David attains by being right with God. 

For David, the God he trusts in is

  • A protective shield v.3
  • A ready listener v.4
  • A sustaining presence v.5-6
  • An active saviour v.7

David had cried to the Lord in the “valley” of lockdown and the Lord had heard him.  In 2 Samuel David is described as literally weeping as he had fled up the mount of Olives away from Jerusalem.  Now he had confidence that God would save him, that God’s purposes would succeed.  He was able to sleep well because he had put his faith in God.

Finally, in verse 8, there is the plateau as David moved forward in faith.  He proclaimed God’s grace and blessing on God’s people.

When we are faced with a lockdown from our troubles or fears or guilt where do we look to for help.  Do we turn to God as a first or last resort?  Do we try and put things right by ourselves or demand support from other people?  The only way out of the valley of lockdown is to cry to God for help, to put things right with Him and then leave our difficulties and everyday troubles in His hands.


Bible Study

On Wednesday 19th 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.  The details of how to do so are on last week’s chapter.

We are continuing a series called Meeting God in Waiting.

The passage is John 15 v.1-12  “Waiting faithfully”,

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

  1. What does this passage say about obedience?
  2. What does Jesus say about himself as the vine (v.1-8)?
  3. What happens when a branch goes off on its own? Has that ever been a danger for you?
  4. What happens when a branch stays close to the vine?
  5. When have you felt nurtured spiritually?
  6. What does Jesus say is the relationship between love and obedience (v.9-12)?
  7. Jesus invites us to remain in His love, what further step of obedience can you make to strengthen your attachment to Jesus?

Songs for Sunday

1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Forgive our foolish ways;
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise,
In deeper reverence, praise.

2. In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee,
Rise up and follow thee.

3. O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love,
Interpreted by love!

4. Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace,
The beauty of thy peace.

5. Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire
O still small voice of calm,
O still small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92)
CCLI #5638

1. Restore, O Lord,
the honour of Your name,
In works of sovereign power
come shake the earth again;
that all may see
and come with reverent fear
to the living God,
whose kingdom shall outlast the years.

2. Restore, O Lord,
in all the earth Your fame,
and in our time revive
the church that bears Your name,
and in Your anger,
Lord, remember mercy,
O living God,
whose mercy shall outlast the years.

3. Bend us, O Lord,
where we are hard and cold,
in Your refiner’s fire
come purify the gold:
though suffering comes,
and evil crouches near,
still our living God
is reigning, He is reigning here.

4. Repeat verse 1.

Graham Kendrick
©
1981 Kingsway Music CCLI #5638


Prayers

Lord God we pray for all who work for peace and unity, and for all world leaders that they will continue to seek an end to the suffering caused by war and violence, injustice and inequality, disease, prejudice, poverty and hopelessness and bring healing to the world.

We continue to pray for those who are refugees and seek safety in another country, despite the dangers of the journey.  We pray for the leaders in Europe especially that agreement can be reached on how to cope with so many in a way that is fair and achievable, and that does not lead refugees and migrants into danger and exploitation.  Lord Jesus – as a child you were a refugee and were kept safe in another country –help us to hold that example, as a solution to the current crisis is sought. 

Lord, in your Mercy:      Hear our Prayer

Healing God, we pray for the health of the world.  We pray for all those working on vaccines to combat Covid 19, that their labours would be successful.  We remember all those who are currently in lock down or shielding and pray for protection on them.  We thank you for our health service and all who seek to alleviate suffering and promote good health. 

Lord, in your Mercy:       Hear our Prayer

Gracious God we pray for the work and service of all care homes and day centres, and for those carers who look after family and friends in their own home.  We thank you for the many charity organisations who raise money and provide supportive services to help.  We pray for all finding their life painful, lonely, or uncertain, especially those who are ill or vulnerable.  Help them to sense your comfort in times of need and bless their families and carers.  We pray for all those who are struggling in their lives.  Bring them hope of an end to their sufferings, and a resolution of their difficulties.  Show us the best way to help those who suffer, without being intrusive but without simply turning away from their pain either. 

Lord, in your Mercy:       Hear our Prayer

Father God we pray for ourselves that each of us might make use of our individual talents and be your true children in your world.  As we start the week ahead, we ask that in all we do, we may we walk more closely with you at our side, safe in the knowledge that your fatherly love and care knows no bounds.

Merciful Father:              accept these prayers
                                       for the sake of your Son,
                                       our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen

Prayer Requests

We are asked to pray for “Mount Pleasant” Baptist church at Northampton, minister Rev Paul Lavender, also this week please pray for the work of “Manna Publications”.

Next week in our reflection we will continue looking at Biblical situations of lockdown by looking at the story of Mrs Nahum’s Slave Girl, “Witnessing in lockdown” 2 Kings 5 v.1-6.