The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 6

This Sunday is St Valentine’s day, a day which has become commercially pink and fluffy!  Which is a long way from a saint who was martyred for his faith and love of God.  I think St Valentine would be horrified at the money made at the expense of his name.  As we think about financial wellbeing in this epistle this seems an apt, though challenging, cartoon. 

The words we speak often say more about us than they do about other people.  As we face the future together let us be people who build others up and not tear down, encouragers not grumblers.  The words “We've never done it that way before" is mentioned by American pastor and writer Sam Rainer as the seven last words of a dying church. 

We are facing a future which will involve us embracing change in the church.  As the German poet and writer Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote:

"We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise, we harden."

“Otherwise we harden” could be rephrased as “to become stick-in-the-muds”.  There are two modes of church existence mission and maintenance.  Both should be evident in the life of a church.  If all we do is maintenance, we will become stick-in-the muds, simply preserving what we have as a museum piece.  Maintenance should involve building up the fellowship to bring glory to God and to fulfil God’s call to mission.  Mission involves reaching out to those who do not know God with the gospel, something we all have a part to play in.  Our lives and words should speak of God, His love and our faith in Him.  We can only do this through letting God work in our lives. 

As it says in James chapter 4 v.7-10 in The Message version.

“So let God work his will in you.  Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce.  Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.  Quit dabbling in sin.  Purify your inner life.  Quit playing the field.  Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.  The fun and games are over.  Get serious, really serious.  Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet”.

As we seek God’s way forward for RRBC this quote from the book “Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive“ by American Pastor and writer Thom S. Rainer (father of Sam Rainer quoted above) seems an apt prayer of commitment. 

“God, open my eyes that I might see my church as You see it.  Let me see where change needs to take place, even if it is painful to me.  And use me, I pray, to be an instrument of that change whatever the cost.”

This week we are continuing with our Wellbeing Journey, based on the story of Elijah. 
The reflections, together with the Bible Studies, are based on the book
“God’s Plan for Your Wellbeing” written by the author and church leader Dave Smith  
Next week’s theme will be “Vocational Wellbeing”.


Reflection

From Phillip on “Financial Wellbeing”. Based on 1 Kings 17 v.1-16, 19 v.5-8

I wonder if you know which topic Jesus talked about more than any other?  The answer - money.  In fact, 16 of the 38 parables Jesus told were concerned with how to handle money or possessions.  This does not mean that money itself is necessarily evil, but rather that God appreciates that money can cause us unnecessary problems and anxiety. 

In the Bible, God is revealed as the Creator of all things who is interested in all our needs.  Which is why Jesus taught us to pray the Lord’s prayer with the request, “Give us today our daily bread”; (Matthew 6 v.11) knowing that our heavenly Father wants to supply our basic needs.  We see that provision in the stories of Elijah.  First, at the Kerith Ravine, where there was a brook for Elijah to drink from and ravens brought him bread and meat to eat.  (1 Kings 17 v.6).  When the water dried up, God then sent Elijah to a widow and miraculously supplied her needs (1 Kings 17 v.7-16).  Finally, God’s angel provided bread and water for Elijah in the desert (1 Kings 19 v.5-8).  Many of us may not experience quite so dire a financial or material situation like Elijah, but we can know God as our provider and trust Him for His provision in our everyday lives.

In contrast to those who worry about having too little, is the curse of materialism and an ever-increasing desire for more “things”, irrespective of the practicality of whether we actually need the “things” we crave.  In his first letter to Timothy, St Paul warns of the dangers of materialism and the desire to get richer.  Instead, he emphasises the Godly power of being content:

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  (1 Timothy 6 v.6–10)

If we look at the example of Elijah, he seems to have been content with God’s provision for his life.  There is no sign of him moaning at a monotonous diet supplied by the ravens or wishing that the widow’s cooking skills were a little more adventurous.  Rather he was content with what he had. 

A third principal that the Bible teaches us about financial wellbeing is the importance of giving.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes:

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  (1 Corinthians 16 v.23). 

In reality we often leave giving to an afterthought, but Paul emphasises it as a priority and once again we see this illustrated in the life of Elijah this time in 1 Kings 17.  During the drought, God instructed him to go to a widow in Zarephath and once there he found her preparing her last meal before getting ready to die.  If we were Elijah, we might have wondered why God had not sent us to a wealthier family.  But Elijah didn’t question God and instead said to this penniless widow, “Don’t be afraid, … first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son” (v.13).  Notice the order: first make something for me and then something for yourself.  Was Elijah being self-serving or cruel?  Neither – he was introducing the widow to the principle of putting God first, for her own good.  Here was the promise: “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land” (v.14).  And it happened just as God had promised: there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family (v.15).  Although this is a unique story, the principle of giving “first” to God runs throughout the Bible.  If we believe that God is the Lord of our lives, then we must put God first.  Why? because ultimately, God gave us the first and the absolute best - Jesus, his firstborn Son, that we might be adopted into his family.


Zoom Bible Study and Communion

On Wednesday 17th February (Ash Wednesday) 7.15pm for 7.30pm start, “Financial Wellbeing – God’s provision”

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. “Whenever God calls us to a task, He will equip us and enable us to complete that task.” American Pastor Michael Youssef.  Do you agree, has this been true in your life?
  2. What passages in the Bible speak of God’s provision?

Read Matthew 6 v.2- 4,19- 34

  1. v.4 exhortation to do things in secret is repeated in v.6 and v.18.  How does this help our financial wellbeing in our spiritual journey?
  2. Verses 19-24 are a word to the rich. 
    What should be a Christian’s attitude to material possessions? 
    In what ways do these verses portray the character and danger of worldliness?
  3. Verses 25-34 are a word to the not-so-rich.  Note the recurrence of the phrase “Do not be anxious”, and list the reasons given why anxiety is wrong. 
  4. American writer Rick Yancey wrote “God doesn’t call the equipped.  God equips the called. And you have been called.”  What is God calling you to do? 

Prayers

Gracious God
rejoicing in your blessings, trusting in your loving care for all,
we bring you our prayers for the world.
We pray for the created world:
for those who rebuild where things have been destroyed;
for those who fight hunger poverty and disease;
for those who have power to bring change for the better and to renew hope.

In the life of our world
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for our country:
for those in leadership; who frame our laws and shape our common life;
who keep the peace and administer justice;
for those who teach and those who heal
for all who serve the community.

In the life of our land
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for people in need:
those for whom life is a bitter struggle;
those whose lives are clouded
by death or loss, by pain or disability,
by discouragement or fear, by shame or rejection.

In the lives of those in need 
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for those in the circle of friendship and love around us:
children and parents; sisters and brothers;
friends and neighbours; and for those especially in our thoughts today …

In the lives of those we love
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

We pray for the church
in its stand with the poor, in its love for the outcast and the ashamed,
in its service to the sick and the neglected, in its proclamation of the Gospel,
in this land and in this place.

In the life of your church
Your kingdom come, O Lord,
Your will be done.

Eternal God: hear these our prayers,
the spoken and the silent, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be all praise and glory for ever.  Amen

(Taken from Baptist “Gathering Together”)

Please pray for our “Mission of the Month” “Accommodation Concern”.


Songs for Sunday

1. As the deer pants for the water,
so my soul longs after You.
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship You

You alone are my strength, my shield,
to You alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship You.

2. I want You more than gold or silver,
only You can satisfy.
You alone are the real joy-giver
and the apple of my eye.

You alone are ...

3. You’re my Friend and You’re my brother,
even though You are a king
I love You more than any other,
so much more than anything

You alone are ...

Martin Nystrom
© 1983 Restoration Music Ltd
CCLI#5638

1. Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

2. Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

3. Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

4. Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

5. Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine:
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.

6. Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store:
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879),
CCLI #5638


Listening to a recording of our audio 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. 
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.


Another Book!

Over Lent we will be using “Worship in the Wilderness – Journey with Jesus through the desert for Lent” by Sara and Sam Hargreaves.

There is a personal devotion book that goes with this if you are interested. Hard copy is £6 or if several of you want an electronic copy they are £3 each.

Let me know by Monday 15th February if you are interested.


Communion Service for Ash Wednesday

Following the Bible Study on Zoom, you will need your own “bread” and “wine”.

Or else if you celebrate it at 8pm on Wednesday (17th) by yourself, you’ll know that others from RRBC are doing the same.

Prayer

In what we have done
and neglected to do,
in the good we intended
but not followed through:
Lord, we have fallen.

For our wandering off
and forgetting your ways;
for leaving you out
of our moments, our days:
Lord, we are sorrowful.

Lord, in dust and in ashes
we turn our hearts back to you
and seek your forgiveness.

Lord, have mercy,
Christ, have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

From the ashes you lift us,
erasing our shame.
You grant fresh beginnings
and restore us again.
Lord, you have raised us.

Lord you draw us back to you
and forgive us our wrongs.
You replace our lamenting
with worshipful songs.
Lord, we are grateful.
Amen

(Text © Richard Lyall,
engageworship.org/wilderness)

We thank you for the acceptance and tenderness with which you have transformed our shame into dignity and loved us into life;

We thank you for cherishing the potential in us and for calling us to be partners in your vision for this world. Amen

This broken bread we share is the body of Christ.
It is a sign of all that we live and risk together as the community of Christ.

Let all who seek Christ take and eat.

This cup we drink together is the wine of the kingdom of God,
It is the sign of God’s
undertaking for the Life of the world.

Let all who seek Christ take and drink.

From where we are to where you need us
Jesus now lead on.

From the security of what we know to the adventure of what you will reveal
Jesus now lead on.

To refashion the fabric of the world until it resembles the shape of your Kingdom
Jesus now lead on.

Because good things have been prepared for those who love God
Jesus now lead on.