The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 15

Throughout the last year people have been looking forward to things getting back to “normal”. Some have even gone so far as to say everything will be fine by Easter or we’ll go abroad in the summer or everything will be sorted out by Christmas. Like people who try to predict the end of the world, it is impossible to “know what lies ahead”, but each of us can say

“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.”

The Jews who went into exile, into a long lockdown, in Babylon did not know what lay ahead but God assured them through His prophets that there was hope. Eventually some returned to their home land, even though life was very different. Haggai preached to these Jews who had returned and whose first priority was to rebuild the temple. But when things got tough the rebuilding halted. Some said it was not the right time to rebuild, but this seemed to be an excuse to ignore God’s work and just get on with their own lives. This led to dissatisfaction, so Haggai challenged them that they were planting much, but harvesting little. They did not seem to have learnt from their lockdown!

Let us learn from our time in lockdown. It is our AGM on Sunday morning after the service and we need to start finding God’s way ahead. We are not building with stones, but we want to be part of God’s work in building His church with people. So things like the AGM should be a priority for church members. Those of you who really cannot come, or those of you who are part of RRBC without being members, should commit yourselves to prayer. Even fasting – as I mentioned last week. Let us be people who “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6v.33) and we can trust God to provide all we need.

There is no Bible Study on Wednesday 21st April


Listening to a recording of our audio service

Please note that the service will be recorded on a Sunday morning and then be available as soon as possible after the service.

If you have the Internet, then go to our website (www.rrbc.org.uk) 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 anytime in the week following the service.

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


Reflection

From Laura:“How much more valuable” based on Matthew 12 v.9-14

Did you give up anything for Lent? If you told yourself that you must not eat chocolate for the 40 days, then how would you make sure you kept the rule? Would you buy any? That might sound a daft question, but if you want to keep to your rule of not eating chocolate then it is safer to add on a rule about not buying it. Even safer to add another rule to not go near anything chocolate. That way you make sure you do not eat chocolate.

One of the ten commandments or rules that God gave to the Israelites was “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20 v.8). The rule was that no person or animal in your household should do any work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath day of rest was a distinguishing mark of the Jewish people. To ensure that they were not in any danger of breaking the Sabbath rule other rules were added on. For example, you could only travel a few miles on land and you could only travel on a ship if you boarded before the Sabbath started. Nowadays, for the more orthodox Jews, car travel is not allowed unless it is an emergency. Over the years all the extra rules grew in importance and the Pharisees saw it as their role to protect people from breaking any rule. The problem was that if you broke one of these minor rules you were guilty of breaking the original rule. This would be like buying chocolate to put in the cupboard and be found guilty of eating it! In New Testament times, if you went for a Sabbath walk, picked a few ears of corn and ate them - you were working. Working because you had plucked a grain head, separated the chaff from the grain and then ground it in your hand. All defined as work and so wrong. If you read Matthew 12 v.1-8 you will see Jesus being told off about the disciples doing just this. Jesus responds that the Sabbath was made for people, not people made to be slaves to the Sabbath.

In the passage we read of Jesus going into the synagogue on the Sabbath and being presented with a trap. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? What a question! To our ears this sounds cruel, but to the Pharisees and their aim of protecting the Sabbath it broke their rules of what one should not do. Their fixation with outward obedience to rules had resulted in a loss of compassion and care. Worse still they missed what God was doing. Jesus raised the issue of rescuing sheep who fall into a pit on the Sabbath, some strict Jews maintained that this was not allowed. But the majority would have rescued the animal because emergencies were allowed for. Jesus argued “How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (v.12). To prove the point Jesus told the man to stretch out his arm. The man now had a choice; he could turn and say no it is the Sabbath but instead he obeyed in faith and was healed. The Pharisees were furious.

The passage presents us with a trap, we can read it and criticise the Pharisees as being outwardly religious, but lacking care and being blind to what God is doing. But in pointing one finger at them we are pointing three back at us. Are we ever in danger of being religious on the outside, saying all the right words and doing all the right things yet lacking care and being blind to what God is doing? Think about your recent conversations, have you encouraged others and spoken well of people? Do you know who is working hard in the church to keep things going, then have you thanked them or criticised them behind their back? We must not get fixated on little concerns that then blind us to what God is doing. Or even worse set ourselves up as judges of our brothers and sisters, remember each of us is valuable to God. We should seek to build up and bless each other so that our church can be a blessing to others.


Dates

Sunday 23rd May Pentecost service out on the car park.


Prayers

Sunday is the day of the Church AGM and we use this prayer to pray for the life of Rockingham Road Baptist Church.

Creator God, we praise you
that you made the whole earth
to shine with your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you
that you lived among us,
and we have seen your glory;
that you were lifted on the Cross for us,
raised from death and exalted to heaven.

Holy Spirit, we praise you
that on the day of Pentecost you gave birth to the Church of Jesus Christ,
and still you gather God’s people
for worship, fellowship and mission.

Now we pray for this community of your people,
that they may be rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ:

A worshipping community
living in your love
and seeking your will;

A missionary community
where Jesus Christ is proclaimed
as Saviour and Lord;

An inclusive community
where all are welcome
and the peace of Christ is shared;

A sacrificial community
where the servant way is honoured
and self is left behind;

A prophetic community
witnessing to God’s kingdom
and seeking the Spirit’s work in the world.

As this church continues in fellowship
with the association, the Baptist Union,
and the whole Church of Christ,
we pray for the grace to support and encourage one another,
that we may all grow together in the unity of the Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

We continue to pray for the easing of the Coronavirus Pandemic around the world.
Lord we pray for the countries of the world in their fight against this illness.
For Brazil and India and other places where the medical resources are being overwhelmed.
We thank God for the development of vaccines and for the way the roll-out is progressing in our country but pray for a fair and safe distribution of this valuable resource throughout the world.

Following the death and funeral of HRH Prince Philip we pray for those who mourn.
To your loving care, O God
we commend those who mourn,
especially her majesty Queen Elizabeth and all the Royal Family.
Sustain them in the days to come
with treasured memories of the past
and radiant hopes for the future.
And bring us all at the last to fullness of life with your saints in the Kingdom of heaven.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Please pray for our Mission of the Month
The “Open Doors” organisation supporting persecuted Christians around the world.


Songs for Sunday

You are the vine,
we are the branches,
keep us abiding in You.
You are the Vine,
we are the branches,
keep us abiding in You.

Then we’ll grow in Your love,
then we’ll go in Your name,
that the world will surely know
that You have power to heal and to save.

You are the vine,
we are the branches,
keep us abiding in You.

 

Danny Daniels & Randy Rigby
© 1982 CopyCare CCLI #5638

1 God is our strength and refuge,
Our present help in trouble;
And we therefore will not fear,
Though the earth should change!
Though mountains shake and tremble,
Though swirling floods are raging,
God the Lord of hosts is with us evermore!

2 There is a flowing river,
God is in the midst of her –
She shall not be moved!
God’s help is swiftly given,
Thrones vanish at his presence –
God the Lord of hosts is with us evermore!

3 Come, see the works of our maker,
Learn of His deeds all powerful;
Wars will cease across the world
When He shatters the spear!
|Be still and know your creator,
Uplift Him in the nations –
God the Lord of hosts is with us evermore!

Richard Brewes (b 1934)
R.T. Bewes / Jubilate Hymns