Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 19

How many of your plans for 2020 have not happened?  As a church we have cancelled more events than we have held!  Monday 27th should have been a Church Meeting, but that is another one that won’t happen.  Will we manage a church meeting in September?  I hope so, but cannot say with any certainty.  Phillip and I had planned a trip to Scotland in June, including visiting David and Jenny.  It didn’t happen and we are now planning to make the trip next year.  That is provided a vaccine has been found or provided restrictions have been lifted or provided … or simply DV!

DV stands for God willing (if you wonder why DV and not GW, DV is Deo Volente in Latin which translates as God willing).  A friend back in Girton always put DV when writing about her plans.  In the uncertainty of our current times perhaps we all ought to use the phrase. 

There is a Jewish joke which goes something like this:

Q.  How do you make the Almighty laugh?

A.  Tell him your plans. 

In all our planning we need to be aware of God’s plans, as James advises in his letter

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

James 4 v.13-15


Next week we will continue looking at Biblical situations of lockdown by looking at Moses and the Israelites in Egypt

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


Reflection

From Laura based on Joseph in Genesis 50 v.15-21

“God’s plans through lockdown”

The passage records the death of Jacob and the happy ending of Joseph and his brothers being reconciled.  Joseph’s words to his brothers are incredible - “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (v.20).  If you don’t know the full story of Joseph, or have forgotten it, it is worth reading in Genesis chapters 37 and 39 to 50.

Joseph was a bright, gifted, clever young man (or was he a show-off?).  Either way he was his Father Jacob’s favourite which did not go down well with his brothers and Joseph didn’t help the situation by talking about his amazing dreams of becoming more important than they were.  His multicoloured coat (or was it just a long-sleeved coat) always singled him out. 

But then he was trafficked by his brothers into slavery and ended up far away from home.  His promising start had been destroyed and Jacob, his doting Dad, was told he had been killed by a wild animal.  Joseph was in lockdown in Egypt, sold to a court official called Potiphar, not allowed to do what he wanted and unable to contact his Dad or family. 

But Potiphar liked and trusted the talented young man who rose to become in charge of Potiphar’s household.  We are told that God blessed everything that Potiphar had because of Joseph.  (Chapter 39 v.5).  This could have been a happy end to Joseph’s lockdown story.  But God’s plan was still unfolding.

Joseph went back into lockdown.  This time in prison, as a result of being framed by Potiphar’s wife because Joseph would not give into her desires. 

In this second lockdown Joseph again found favour, this time with the prison warder who put him in charge of the other prisoners.  We are told that God blessed Joseph and he was successful in all he did, others were blessed again.  Time passed and two other prisoners, both had dreams.  Joseph interpreted both their dreams; they were both coming out of lockdown, successfully for the Cupbearer, but unhappily for the Baker.  Joseph asked the Cupbearer to remember him when he was released and get him out of lockdown. 

On a human level Joseph was forgotten, but the timing was not yet right in God’s plan.  Two more years passed for Joseph in lockdown.  Then the ruler of Egypt, the powerful Pharaoh had two disturbing dreams.  No one could be found to interpret them until the Cupbearer remembered Joseph.  Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and started by explaining that it wasn’t him, but God who could interpret dreams and then revealed that the dreams told of an approaching famine. 

Pharaoh was so pleased that Joseph was released from lockdown.  At the age of thirty he became second in command to Pharaoh, was given a wife and successfully took Egypt through the severe famine.  This would be an amazing story if it stopped there.  All the things Joseph had been through had prepared him for this God given role, in his maturity he could use his talents to bless others.  But God’s plans for different people are woven together.  There are still another 8 chapters of his story in Genesis.

Jacob’s family were in lockdown in Canaan due to the famine.  Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to ask for food which meant grovelling before Joseph, who they did not recognise.  Here was a chance for revenge, but instead Joseph provided for his Dad and brothers.  The result was that Jacob and all the family became migrants and established themselves in Egypt. 

After Jacob dies the brothers are worried that Joseph will now take his revenge, but instead Joseph assures them that he sees God’s plans through all that has happened.  The pastor and missionary Rev, Dr David Smith wrote on this passage that Joseph and his brothers were

“Subject to the overruling power and purposes of God.  Those purposes take human actions that are evil and malicious and mysteriously weave them into a larger plan driven by God’s intention to bring good to human beings.”          

That comment is worth reading several times.

We are still in lockdown and God still has plans for us, plans which are part of a wider plan.  He is at work in and through our situations.  We have a choice, let us choose to work with God and let Him guide and lead us since His plans are a blessing for us and others. 

Another two passages worth looking at are Jeremiah 29 v.10-14 and Romans 8 v.28.


Songs for Sunday

1. You’re the word of God the Father,
from before the world began;
every star and every planet
has been fashioned by Your hand.
All creation holds together
by the power of Your voice:
let the skies declare Your glory,
let the land and seas rejoice!

You’re the author of creation,
You’re the Lord of every one;
and Your cry of love rings out
across the lands.

2. Yet You left the gaze of angels,
came to seek and save the lost,
and exchanged the joy of heaven
for the anguish of a cross.
With a prayer You fed the hungry,
with a word You stilled the sea;
yet how silently You suffered
that the guilty may go free. 
You’re the author of creation, …

3. With a shout You rose victorious,
wrestling victory from the grave,
and ascended into heaven
leading captives in Your wake.
Now You stand before the Father
interceding for Your own.
From each tribe and tongue and nation
You are leading sinners home.
You’re the author of creation, …

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
© 2002 Thankyou Music, CCLI #5638

1. I do not know what lies ahead,
the way I cannot see;
yet One stands near to be my guide,
He’ll show the way to me:

I know who holds the future,
and He’ll guide me with His hand;
with God things don’t just happen,
everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow,
with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles,
give to Him my all.

2. I do not know how many days
of life are mine to spend;
but One who knows and cares for me
will keep me to the end:
I know who holds the future, …

3. I do not know the course ahead
What joys and griefs are there;
But One is near who fully knows,
I’ll trust His loving care:
I know who holds the future, …

Alfred B.  Smith
© 1958 Singspiration Music CCLI #5638


Prayers

Dear Lord, we pray for the world in which we live.
We pray for peace between all nations and peoples.  Where there is war bring peace, where there are tensions bring harmony and where there are disputes bring resolution.

We remember the country in which we live.
We pray for our government and all those in positions of power and responsibility that they would govern wisely and well.  We pray for the local councils at this time with increased challenges and responsibilities, help them as they seek to help us in the community.

We give thanks for the Health Service which we all appreciate.
We pray for all those who work in the NHS and Social Care in all their efforts to support and care for those in need.  We pray for those working on vaccines for Covid 19.  We have been encouraged by positive news this week and pray for possible treatments and a vaccination programme.

We pray for our church - Rockingham Road Baptist Church in Kettering.
We pray for Laura as minister and the Deacons.  We ask for wisdom in the decisions that need to be made about the use of our buildings.  We pray that in these strange times of not all being together for services, we might still feel one in Christ Jesus. 

In the wider Baptist family, we pray for our regional ministers; Geoff Colmer, Stephen Copson and Colin Pye, particularly remembering Geoff, following a recent diagnosis of Myeloma.

We pray for ourselves and commit ourselves to God’s work in his world.
Dear Lord help us to be your true disciples, sharing your love to all those we meet.  May we be open to the needs of the world and willing to help when and where we can. 
Fill us with your Holy Spirit that we might truly be your disciples in this your world.    Amen


Bible Study

On Wednesday 29th July 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 2 Timothy 1 v.3-7.  “Waiting with support”.

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 think about the following points.

  1. When did you last have to wait for something serious or life-changing? Were you on your own or with someone else?  Would you prefer to be waiting on your own or with someone? Why?
  2. Read Proverbs 2 Timothy 1 v.3-7, Paul is writing to Timothy in a time when they are waiting to see each other again.  What can you tell from the passage about their relationship? 
  3. Paul offers Timothy several kinds of support in the letter.  First he tells him very directly how he feels about him (v.2-4).  How might this help Timothy?  How might hearing something similar from a friend be of help to you?
  4. Paul affirms Timothy’s sincere faith (v.5).  How would this help?  Would these words help you?
  5. Finally, Paul offers Timothy encouragement.  What does he say (v.6,7)?  Has anyone encouraged you in this way?
  6. Particularly in times of waiting, such as in lockdown, how do you offer support to friends?  Why not send a note to a friend, to express your appreciation of them or affirmation of their faith or encouragement in using their gifts?