Welcome to the second edition of Bethlehem Briefing. That means we are all entering our second week of social distancing and isolation. But physical isolation does not mean we can’t have fellowship together. If there is anything you would like included, please email, phone, or message on the Church Facebook page.
Brief Devotional: Keeping it together
Come with me to Hebrews 4 v 16. I thought I knew what the word “help” meant. But I discovered through reading another article that in this verse the word is a very unusual one. It is a nautical term meaning to “undergird”. It is reference to something called “frapping”. When a ship was in danger of falling apart because of the storm, the sailors would pass cables four or five times around the hull to keep it together. The word only comes one other time in the New Testament, Acts 27 v 17, when Paul and Luke were on board a ship in the storm, we read that the sailors “passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together”. Going back to Hebrews 4 v 16 we find that the grace and mercy of God is like that sort of help, able to keep us together in times of need.
In these days we are rightly concerned for the mental health of people. Many are at the front line of the battle against the coronavirus, going to work every day in difficult and stressful environments. Others are isolated indoors possibly alone and anxious. Still others are trying to entertain and distract children. How do we keep it together? Take care of your soul. The mind is part of the soul. Everything depends on what you allow yourself to think and how you reason. The mind will govern the heart and the will. Remember, this verse encourages you to hold firmly to your faith, v14, keep in mind your great high priest who understands the human condition perfectly v15, and approach a God who reigns. Then you will receive mercy and help (wrapping you around tightly to keep you together in the storm), in your time of need.
Here are a couple of verses from a Charles Wesley Hymn. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut to appear in the New Edition of Christian hymns, but if you have an old Christian Hymns it is number 770
Father, though storm on storm appear
Let not our faith forgo her hold;
Deliver us from craven fear,
And make us steadfast, firm and bold.
Out of our weakness make us strong;
Arm us as in the ancient days;
Loose in Thy cause each stammering tongue,
And perfect, e'en in us, Thy praise.
1. Develop a routine for devotions. Set aside a time every day, morning and/or evening, for prayer and reading the Bible. Turn off all devices, t.v. radio, mobile devices, especially 24 hour news feeds! Make a prayer list of family, friends, church needs, the wider world, missionary needs. Perhaps have a different list for each day of the week.
2. Choose a book in the Bible and read it very slowly a verse or two every day. Meditate on those verses, think through them as carefully and prayerfully as you can. Choose a book you may not be familiar with, or choose a gospel.
2. Use what you already have. Missionary magazines and prayer letters, Christian newspapers and magazines that you have half read.
3. Look on your bookshelves for half read or unread Christian books, commentaries or biographies. I am the worst for half read books, now is the time to finish them.
4. If you are able to go online, visit helpful websites. I would suggest two, www.gtw.org which is the website of John McArthur and Grace to You, and www.truthforlife.org the website of Alistair Begg . You will find a wealth of helpful material to listen to and to read on these websites.
Brief Prayer Requests
1. All our elderly and vulnerable members and friends who may be on their own at home and subject to 24 hour news that can be distressing. Pray that the Lord will minister to their hearts and assure them of his love.
2. For all who work in the NHS, Social Care, Emergency Services, Education and any others who continue to supply essential help to those who need it.
3. For all in local, regional and UK government who have very difficult decisions to make. They are put there by God to administer temporal things. We are told to pray for them and to submit to them Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.
Finally, for those who are following the daily readings, we are beginning to read the book of Psalms from this Wednesday:
April 1st – Psalm 1,2; 2nd – Psalm 3,4; 3rd – Psalm 5,6; 4th – Psalm 7,8; 5th – Psalm 9;
April 6th – Psalm 10; 7th – Psalm 11,12; 8th – Psalm 13,14; 9th – Psalm 15,16
We don’t want anyone to be at home anxious and lonely. You may be alone, but we don’t want you to be lonely. I have been so encouraged to hear of people phoning one another, and there have been many offers of help. If you happen to be someone who has been overlooked, with no one contacting you, please let one of us know. Contact Jenny and me on 01639 882564, or message me through Facebook ,email me on [email protected]. Or contact Jonathan, Ben or Andrew. We are all here to help and however small it seems to be to you, even if you just need a reassuring chat, please get in touch.
Warmly yours in the Lord
Your Pastor Jeremy 30th March 2020