The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 2

Last autumn we derived hope from a vaccine being on the horizon.  Now some of you have had the first dose of vaccine and one or two have even had a second dose.  Hopefully, it has brought you a greater sense of security and wellbeing, although everyday life has probably, not yet changed.

In the days of Moses when the people of Israel were in slavery to the Egyptians, God enabled them to escape so they could travel to the promised land and a better life.  As time passed though and difficulties arose the Israelites grumbled, but God being merciful answered and met their physical needs.  Then they grumbled again and again and again.  They even ignored how awful slavery had been and wished they were back in Egypt.  They kept forgetting all God had done, conveniently ignored how much God had provided for them, complained about their leader Moses and did not bother to turn to God to ask for help. 

In the book of Numbers (chapter 21 v.5) we read that the Israelites grumbling boiled over into the complaint - “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert?  There is no bread!  There is no water!  And we detest this miserable food!”  The Bible tells us that this time God sent venomous snakes among them and many died.  Then the people realised their folly and confessed they had sinned to Moses and asked him to pray for the snakes to go.  This he did and God instructed him to make a bronze snake, with the instruction that if someone had been bitten and looked at the snake they would live. 

John writes in his gospel “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3 v.14,15). 

Where are you today?  Grumbling because of the Covid virus and its impact?  Or listening to other people grumbling?  Or losing hope as the time goes by?  Don’t forget, Jesus was lifted up on the cross, He has died for you and for the world.  Keep looking to Him and not the difficulties.  Do you remember when the disciples were in a boat on the sea of Galilee and Jesus came to them walking on the water.  Jesus called Peter to join him, so Peter stepped out onto the water and started walking towards Jesus.  But when he took his eyes off Jesus he started to sink (Matthew 14 v.29-31).  Keep praying for others, keep praying against the virus and keep praying for God’s mercy to be seen in this land and in his world.  That people would turn and look at Jesus, lifted up for our sins.  If you do slip - look to Jesus again and he will lift you up because he loves you.


This week we are carrying on 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 “Emotional Wellbeing”.


Reflection

From Phillip based on 1 Kings 18v.46 to 19 v.9

“Physical wellbeing”

When I worked in the hospital as a Chaplain, there were two times when I would not visit a patient.  The first was when they were asleep and the second was when they were eating.  I did though enjoy visiting at other times and particularly after patients had just seen the physiotherapist when I could encourage them in the progress they were making.  Food, water, exercise and rest are the basic needs of our physical wellbeing and in saying that I am saying nothing new, for physical wellbeing is important in the Bible and particularly so in the story Elijah.

As we read the account in 1 Kings, it is clear that Elijah was physically exhausted.  We are not told exactly why, but it is clear he had been under huge mental, emotional and spiritual pressure through his confrontation with the prophets of Baal and the menacing threat from Queen Jezebel.  It may also have been a result of him just physically overdoing it.  From the intensity of the Mount Carmel encounter, Elijah, aided by the supernatural strength of God, initially journeyed from Carmel to Jezreel (17–30 miles).  However, he then fled in a state of panic from Jezreel all the way down to the south, to Beersheba in Judah, a journey of 100 miles.  Then, from there, he went on a further day’s journey into the wilderness and immediately fell asleep (verses 3-5).  In the light of all this, it seems obvious that a key factor in Elijah’s burnout was physical exhaustion - so God started with his physical replenishment.

Looking further into the chapter (verses 15-17) we see that the Lord had a clear plan as to what Elijah was to do, but there was no point in explaining that to Elijah at verse 5; he was exhausted, so the Lord left him to sleep.  Ruth Hayley Barton writes - God did not waste time trying to deal with him intellectually or even spiritually, because it wouldn’t have done any good.  He began by dealing with Elijah’s physical weariness and depletion - he let Elijah sleep.  Then he woke Elijah up when it was time to eat and drink, provided food and water for him, told him to go back to sleep, and then started the process all over again.

A few years ago, I had a diesel car and a constant concern at the petrol pump was to check that I was filling it with the correct fuel.  Diesel engines do not like petrol!  Food and drink are like fuel to our bodies and getting enough of the right proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water is essential for our physical wellbeing.  Our creator knows the importance of us eating and Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread”.

So, it is no surprise that after allowing Elijah to sleep, the next thing that God did for his depleted servant was to give him a good meal.  There is a lovely tenderness in this incident for Elijah, exhausted and suicidal, had laid down under a bush and fallen asleep:  All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”  He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.  Quite apart from the taste, the smell of baking bread would lift my spirits and I am sure it did that for Elijah.  Still tired, Elijah ate and drank and then lay down again.  The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”  So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God (v7-8). 

God did not immediately meet with Elijah in the desert.  Instead, the Lord wanted to bring him to the mountain where He had previously revealed Himself to Moses.  Taking care of Elijah’s physical wellbeing, was essential before the exercise of climbing the mountain and it was there on Mount Horeb that Elijah met with God (verse 9 onwards).

Modern healthcare identifies food, water, air and rest as our basic physical wellbeing and that is right, for in the story of Elijah we see how God provided sleep and rest, food and drink, and exercise for the exhausted prophet so that he might be strengthened for the task that lay ahead.


Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 20th January at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,
“Emotional Wellbeing – Hope and Thankfulness”

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. What emotions did Jesus show?
  2. What impact does hope, or the lack of it, have on our emotions?


    Read Psalm 42

    1. What emotions does the psalmist express?
    2. What does the psalmist remember?
    3. What gives the psalmist hope?
    4. What verse jumps out at you?
     

    Read Psalm 43

  3. What do you notice about this psalm in comparison with Psalm 42?


    Read 1 Thessalonians 5 v.16-18,

  4. What impact does thankfulness or gratitude have on our emotions?  Do you agree with this statement from Robert Emmons, an American Psychologist?

“By cultivating gratitude, we are free from envy over what we don't have or who we are not. It doesn't make life perfect, but with gratitude comes the knowledge that right now, in this moment, we have enough - and we are enough."


Prayers

(Taken from Anglican prayers about the outbreak)

Let us pray to God,
who alone makes us dwell in safety:
For all who are affected by coronavirus,
through illness or isolation or anxiety,
that they may find relief and recovery:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies, that they may
make wise decisions:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers,
that through their skill and insights
many will be restored to health:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the vulnerable and the fearful,
for the gravely ill and the dying,
that they may know your comfort and peace:
Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers for the sake of
your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Please pray for our “Mission of the month” - Home Mission.


Songs for Sunday

Shout for joy and sing your praises to the King;
Lift your voice and let your hallelujahs ring.
Come before His throne to worship and adore
Enter joyfully now the presence of the Lord

You are my Creator,
You are my Deliverer

You are my Redeemer,
You are Lord and You are my Healer
You are my Provider,
You are now my Shepherd
and my Guide
Jesus, Lord and King, I worship You.

David Fellingham
© 1988 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music CCLI #5638

1) Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

2) Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the word, receive your people’s praise.

3) Lord, for our land, in this our generation,
spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care;
for young and old, for commonwealth and nation,
Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

4) Lord, for our world; when we disown and doubt you,
loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,
hungry and helpless, lost indeed without You:
Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

5) Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us,
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for our future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b.  1926)
© Timothy Dudley-Smith  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 internet, we have now paid to have a “Dial-a-Service” facility.  If you phone 01536 909787 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 face book page always has some interesting things on as well.  See Roy for details if you cannot find it!