PRAY in all things, especially in our travels, Russ exhorted us last week.

In 2 Kings 3 the three “wise monkeys” – the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom—did not seek God’s guidance or support as they set out on a journey, to attack Moab (v8). Indeed, they did not really prepare for the journey at all. Choosing the desert way, a circuitous route, they ran out of water within 7 days! Elisha was called for, and this holy man explained how God would provide a miraculous intervention— supplying water for the men and their animals, and confusing the Moabites, who thought the water was blood and went to plunder the camp, only to be completely routed themselves.

God met the needs of the men and their animals, and overcame the Moabites too, by providing water in valley. “This is an easy thing in the Lord’s eyes” (v18). It is a salutary lesson for us all.

Whether we are travelling for leisure, work or to preach the Truth, we should approach travel wisely and seek God’s support through trusting prayer. Indeed, we should bring all matters to God in prayer, no matter how great or small they may be. God is Lord over all things, great and small.

A simple walk in Wales, highlights the point. The weather seems fine, the boots are new and a walking guide has been bought. All goes well. But the walk is tiring, over fields and hills. Soon it becomes apparent that with no food, or water, or survival equipment, the walkers are very vulnerable. One trip, one fall, a twisted ankle, a broken leg—and then what?We have an obligation to prepare for our travels carefully, taking a responsible approach. And an essential part of that preparation is prayer.
In Jeremiah 51 travel occurs again. This time God is sending a force to destroy Babylon. “I will send foreigners to Babylon” (v2), he explains. And their purpose? To rescue God’s children, even though they continue to sin. “For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty”(v5). Encouragement indeed!

What might Jesus say to the World Bank (and us)

The World Bank is an organisation that started in 1944, with the aim of providing support to countries ravaged by the Second World War, explained Rob Evans last Sunday evening. Today, 66 years later, the World Bank has 10,000 staff and 187 members countries, offering low- or no-interest loans to help some of the most needy people in the world.

In 2009 it gave $47 billion in loans to finance 300 new projects and 1800 that were already running. That sounds like very good work indeed! But the World Bank has also been accused of losing $100 billion to corruption since 1946. It has an expensive, modern headquarters and has been criticised for forcing Western finance models on beneficiary countries, including deregulation, privatisation and budget equalisation, things that may not best suit those countries.

So, what might Jesus say to such an organisation? Indeed, what might Jesus say to any organisation involved in managing money—be it the world’s banks, which caused a $14.5 trillion loss in global wealth recently, or…….us!

The Bible provides plenty of pointers. 1 Sam 2:7-8 reminds us that the poor have always been with us, and always will be. Matt 25 21-30 explains the importance of managing what God gives us properly—the importance of good stewardship. 2 Cor 8 14-15, emphasises the need to share and share alike, for everyone’s benefit. Ecc 11 1-2 urges us to be astute and think about risk and reward, spreading our investments wisely. We should give as we receive from God. We should give out, because God gives to us, and He has much more to give than we can ever match.

And most poignant for us, the banks and the World Bank: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”