The Rectory Bulletin
Psalms

The Slaughter of the Priests

Fri 15th Jan 2021

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. (Psalm 52:1-2) - We are back in the time of King Saul, when David was emerging as a very popular military figure. Even though he was a close friend of the king’s son, David could not escape the jealous wrath of Saul and so he went on the run. He doesn’t seek to put on a polite front before God, but rather pours out his heart. God does not require our politeness, rather he hears the cries of our hearts.

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Psalms

Delighting in the Law

Thu 14th Jan 2021

... but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2) - As you lie awake worrying, you hear the call of Jesus: “Come to me…”. As the issues crowd in, you can cast your burden onto Christ. This truly is the blessed life.

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Walk Not!

Wed 13th Jan 2021

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalm 1:1) - So much of our life is seen through screens, especially as we are told to stay at home. This Psalm reminds us that these screens (or the radio speakers) are not neutral and that we would do well to be discerning about what we watch or listen to. - whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

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Church History

George Müller

Tue 12th Jan 2021

If you were to drive through Bristol you might notice some large buildings at the top of a hill in Ashley Down. The buildings provided accommodation for just over two thousand orphans, which was forty per cent of the entire orphanage capacity in the country. All he did was pray for the money he needed. He never made requests for any financial support, and he never went into debt. When he died, he had received £1.5m (£150m today) and had provided for over 10,000 children. Such is the God who answers prayer.

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Psalms

Be Blessed

Mon 11th Jan 2021

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2) - Yes, there are commands of God but their aim is bring blessing and a deepness of joy. They are there to enable the individual to grow in an ever-deepening relationship with God. They are the signposts on the road to glory, guides to lead us safely home. The aim is blessedness, not joyless obedience. In the end true, enduring joy and fulfilment is only to be found in the one who created you in the first place.

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Sundays

The God who Smiles

Sun 10th Jan 2021

And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10–11) - If you have not yet taken that step, that first step of following Jesus, then resolve to do it now and feel the radiant smile of God. If you are living as a Christian in a sort of twilight. If you have a life of compromises and just not really going for it. Well, recommit yourself and bask in God's smile. If you are doggedly going on with Jesus, and it is causing you trouble at work, at home, well look up! See the smile of your God as you seek to follow him. My friend, you need to experience the smile of God.

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Empty Phrases

Sat 09th Jan 2021

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. (Matthew 6:5) - The prayers of others may be of great value in stirring our own hearts to prayer, but we shouldn’t judge ourselves by the edited words of others. We are not praying to be overheard by anyone else, but to come before our heavenly father. A brief prayer is a prayer that is heard if it comes from your heart.

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Pslams

The Son who Wishes to Kill

Fri 08th Jan 2021

O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:1-4) - Absalom was popular, and had the men of Israel with him, so David fled Jerusalem. And that’s when he wrote this Psalm, declaring his reliance upon God in the midst of his trouble.

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Prayer

In Secret

Thu 07th Jan 2021

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6) - Your tears or your joy don’t go unnoticed, or unheard. Even at your loneliest you are not alone, even at your worst you are not unloved. Your Father in heaven sees, and hears.

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Prayer

Who are You Speaking To?

Wed 06th Jan 2021

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. (Matthew 6:5) - At its most profound prayer is a pouring out of your heart before God, and that can be untidy. Yet God hears, and delights. When you pray don’t worry about anyone else, or even yourself. Simply focus on God and pour forth.

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Church History

Stirrings in Wales

Tue 05th Jan 2021

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25) - On this day in 1743 eight men met in a house in what is now the outskirts of Caerphilly. As the eight men met - half ordained, half lay - at the home of Thomas Price a system of rules and regulations was drawn up. ‘Overseers’ were appointed to districts of Wales. ‘Exhorters’ were set in place to encourage the faithful.

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Prayer

When you Pray

Mon 04th Jan 2021

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6) - So as we begin to look at how we pray, perhaps a good start is to turn “if you pray” into “when you pray”. You may feel your prayers are wandering, weak and wobbly but you can be confident that your Father hears them.

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Sundays

True Wisdom

Sun 03rd Jan 2021

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1) - The problem is that when you rely on your own understanding you don’t end up at the stable with Jesus. You end up face to face with Herod.

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Christmas

The Stable and the Tomb

Sat 02nd Jan 2021

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7) - At both ends of his earthly life we are invited to wonder that one so majestic should lain in something so humble, and so it is today. It is to humble hearts that Jesus comes, to those who trust him for who he is.

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Hymn Stories

O God, Our Hope in Ages Past

Fri 01st Jan 2021

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home; "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:1-2) - God was their hope in ages past, and once more had brought them relief. We too worship that same God, and so we to shouldn’t be shy in allowing his faithfulness in the past to give us confidence in our future.

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Christmas

Pondering

Thu 31st Dec 2020

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19) - Here is a good model of what to do when we are faced with some act of God, some words of God which make little sense. We chew it over in the secret of our heart, and pray for understanding. How quick we can be to dismiss things which initially make little sense! Better to follow Mary and slowly ponder.

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Christmas

To You

Wed 30th Dec 2020

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10–12) - The birth at Bethlehem was not simply a remote event, a quirk of history. Its consequences extended to shepherds on a remote hillside and wise men in a far away country. It was a fulfilment of prophecies a millennium old, and affects us two millennia on.

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Church History

Nicholas Hereford

Tue 29th Dec 2020

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13) - We don’t know precisely when he was born, but he was ordained in 1370 after the death of his wife, and soon became a Fellow of Queen’s College in Oxford. There he became a friend of Wycliffe, the great rebellious translator of the Bible into English, whose words lie behind so much of the King James Version.

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Christmas

Emptied Himself

Mon 28th Dec 2020

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5) - God’s work of salvation is not one which is cheap, and the price falls squarely upon Christ. That is why we bow at his name.

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Sundays

Why Christmas?

Sun 27th Dec 2020

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4–7) - As you lift up your heart to rejoice at the birth of Jesus, lift up your voice and cry out “Abba! Father!”. Mary may have given birth to a single son, but through that one son heaven is populated with millions more.

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The Forgotten Witness

Sat 26th Dec 2020

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. (Acts 7:56) - The first martyr was not an apostle. They may have had the formal preaching role, but it was Stephen whose witness to the faith cost the first Christian life. Never leave Christianity to church leaders. God delights to use all his children.

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Christmas

Cancelled?

Fri 25th Dec 2020

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7) - Christmas has not been cancelled. It might be subdued or even chaotic, but the Bethlehem outhouse reminds us that Jesus came into the midst of frustrated plans and family turmoil. The name of Christ - Immanuel - reminds us that God is with us, whatever the circumstances.

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Advent

Immanuel

Thu 24th Dec 2020

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) - Here we have one who will be born of a virgin, a sign which “the Lord himself” will give. This son will bear the name Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’. A rich prophecy indeed.

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Advent

Unto us a Child is Born

Wed 23rd Dec 2020

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:6) - From the eight century BC, Isaiah speaks forth a great prophecy of the hope to come. The kingdom of Judah is under great stress, neighbouring nations are laying siege, and in the midst of all this turmoil the great prophet speaks of a future. A future which, for those who heard him, would sound entirely counter to their expectations.

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Church History

Francis and the Crib

Tue 22nd Dec 2020

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) - On Christmas Eve 1223, the villagers of Greccio were invited to a service by Francis of Assisi. He had settled in the area with some of his followers, and had planned something for the locals. As the villagers climbed up the snaking paths, they came to one of the many caves which dotted the hills and discovered what Francis had planned.

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O Bethlehem

Mon 21st Dec 2020

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2) - Then there is an intriguing twist. The coming forth of this ruler is “from of old, from ancient days”. In other words, this will be the fulfilment of a plan long in the making. Something set in motion in “ancient day”, from time immemorial.

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Sundays

Why Bother with the Virgin Birth?

Sun 20th Dec 2020

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:30-34) - If, however, the Gospels are correct and Jesus was born of a virgin. If the New Testament is right, and Jesus is fully divine as well as fully human. Well, everything changes. We truly have “God with us”.

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Acts 8

The Unexpected Mission

Sat 19th Dec 2020

But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. (Acts 8:3–4) - In today’s church there is a desire for project managers, budgets and projections. It is good to be reminded that what might look like unexpected consequences to us are, in fact, the very plans of God. We might be surprised - he isn’t.

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Carol Story

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Fri 18th Dec 2020

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13–14) - In 1739, Charles Wesley would have had the satisfaction of seeing his Christmas hymn published in Hymns and Sacred Poems. That year had also seen a thirty-two year old Charles and his brother John take to preaching in the fields to great numbers. Hymns were a great way of teaching the masses, and so Charles had taken to the task with great vigour.

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Acts 8

Ravaging and Lamentation

Thu 17th Dec 2020

Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Acts 8:2–3) - The pages of Christian history are filled with those who once opposed God. The grace of God is that these very people often become the church’s greatest leaders. In the economy of God, your past needn’t dictate your future.

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Acts 8

The Apostles Stayed

Wed 16th Dec 2020

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1) - As the temperature rose in Jerusalem, two things happened: the church scattered; and the apostles stayed put.

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Church History

Sir John Oldcastle

Tue 15th Dec 2020

On 15th December 1417 Sir John Oldcastle was executed in a predictably brutal manner, burnt as he hung on the gallows. His crime? He was a Lollard. The Bible is, you see, a dangerous book. Those who read it well end up giving their allegiance to a higher King.

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Acts 8

Persecution and Growth

Mon 14th Dec 2020

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. (Acts 8:1–5) - Martyrs don’t only bear witness to the persecuting crowds, but also to the church. Their faith can be a great challenge and a great encouragement. It is the ultimate example of steadfastness. It makes you think. Would I be willing …?

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Sundays

The Joyful Christian Life

Sun 13th Dec 2020

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16) - Here then is Paul’s recipe for a Christian life. We are to pray, to fan the flame of the Spirit within us, to listen for God’s voice, to abstain from evil and let God work in us.

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Exodus 34

Sin, Guilt and Forgiveness

Sat 12th Dec 2020

"abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7) - Yes, we may be guilty of sin but God himself has given us a way of dealing with it. You can try and minimise it, ignore it or explain it away. Or you can transfer it to Christ. That is the glory of the Gospel.

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Carol Story

Silent Night

Fri 11th Dec 2020

Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child! Holy infant, so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace! - Fame brings familiarity, and familiarity makes things flat. The words of the carol speak of the great intake of breath before the proclamation of the Gospel in the person of Christ. They are worth re-reading for the sense of calmness before Christ came to turn the world upside-down.

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Exodus 34

… and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness …

Thu 10th Dec 2020

"The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands" - (Exodus 34:6-7) - The still pools of God’s steadfast love await you, the ear of one who is faithful awaits. Reluctance might be in our hearts, but never in God’s.

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Exodus 34

… slow to anger …

Wed 09th Dec 2020

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6) - That is the purpose of the patience, it is a merciful slowness to anger. Judgment is coming, but there is time to seek God’s mercy. Judgement is coming, but the judge has provided a way through. Christ awaits, arms outstretched. Will you repent?

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Church History

Richard Baxter

Tue 08th Dec 2020

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11–12) - If you queue around the Kidderminster ring road, you eventually come across a church with a large statue at the front. This figure, finger pointing to the heavens, is Richard Baxter who died on this day in 1691.

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Exodus 34

a God merciful and gracious

Mon 07th Dec 2020

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:5–6) - If you see God as gracious and merciful, you necessarily see yourself as one who is in need of grace and mercy. Grace is undeserved, and so is mercy. That’s what makes them such a magnificently overwhelming gift.

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Sundays

Zoom Out!

Sun 06th Dec 2020

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” (Mark 2-4) - Let me make a plea this Christmas. It’s not the first time I’ve made it, and I’m sure you’ll grow weary of it over the years. Nevertheless, here it is: please zoom out this Christmas! Here is the day to gladden the hearts of those Prophets, Priests and Kings of the Old Testament, the day when there hopes are fulfilled and their words come to pass!

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Exodus 34

The LORD

Sat 05th Dec 2020

“The LORD, the LORD” (Exodus 34:5) - When God proclaims his name to Moses, he begins by repeating what Moses heard at the Burning Bush: “the LORD”. He underlines the fact by repeating the name once again.

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Carol Stories

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Fri 04th Dec 2020

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) - O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel ,that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel. - All this, in Advent, reminds us that the story didn’t begin at Bethlehem, but was set in motion long before.

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Exodus 34

The Name of God Proclaimed

Thu 03rd Dec 2020

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5–7) - As he passes by Moses in glory, he proclaims a name which is longer than that given at the Burning Bush. In proclaiming his name, God is giving us an extended meditation on his name, a longer form of his name.

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Philemon

The Band of Missionaries

Wed 02nd Dec 2020

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 23–25) - As we find again and again, the gospel progresses when there are groups of people who come together to proclaim the glorious message. Some may desert the cause, and some may then be reconciled, but together God will use those who work for the sake of the gospel.

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Church History

Advent

Tue 01st Dec 2020

… waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ … (Titus 2:13) - It is the season which prepares us for the coming of Jesus at Bethlehem, but also has an eye on his second coming. It’s therefore a time of preparation and, traditionally, fasting.

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Philemon

Whose Plans?

Mon 30th Nov 2020

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. (Philemon 21–22) - We might pray, but God might not have the answer to our prayers which we wish. Peace is to be found when we accept that God is God, and so trust in his purposes.

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Sundays

Keep Watch!

Sun 29th Nov 2020

Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake. (Mark 13:35–37) - The more we are aware of the reality of God, the more we consciously live in his presence, the more we meet with God. Jesus urges us to “stay awake”. Don’t sleepwalk through life.

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Philemon

How Important is Faith?

Sat 28th Nov 2020

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. (Philemon 17–20) - How important is faith? It is worth everything. Even “your own self”.

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Hymn Stories

Blest be the Tie that Binds

Fri 27th Nov 2020

Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love: The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above. - In 1765 John Fawcett (1740-1817) took up the post as minister of a Baptist Church in Wainsgate, which is in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. It was not a wealthy, prosperous or prominent place but Fawcett wasn't much concerned. He had a great love for his people, and they had a great love for him too.

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Philemon

“Sending my Very Heart”

Thu 26th Nov 2020

I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. (Philemon 12-14) - Paul understands that Christianity has a radical message at its heart: as we are united to Christ we are united to one another.

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Philemon

Paul’s Example of Prayer

Wed 25th Nov 2020

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 4–7) - Faith is not static, but is something which grows. Perhaps when you pray for someone, you might also pray for their faith.

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Church History

John Knox and the Book of Common Prayer

Tue 24th Nov 2020

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:6) - On this day in 1572 John Knox, the foremost leader of the Scottish Reformation, died in Edinburgh. Whether it was turning down the role as bishop, or taking on the Privy Council, Knox was a man who stood by his convictions. A man with a spine!

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Philemon

Philemon

Mon 23rd Nov 2020

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1–3) - To be a Christian is not something to do on a Sunday morning, but it is to be part of a new reality: the family of God.

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Leaping like a Deer

Sat 21st Nov 2020

GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:19) - Christianity is not just hope after you die, or even simply the moral courage to keep on going. It is knowing the indwelling presence of God in times of real stress and struggle. It is being able to leap like a deer, and experience the high places of closeness with God even in the midst of toil.

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Hymn Stories

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Fri 20th Nov 2020

the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,to receive glory and honour and power,for you created all things,and by your will they existed and were created.”(Revelation 4:10-11) - All hail the power of Jesu's name; let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem to crown him, crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all.

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The Hesitant Woman

Thu 19th Nov 2020

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. (Luke 8:42) - She wasn’t bold like Jairus, she didn’t fall at Jesus’ feet and implore him to help. She just came up behind him, and reached out to touch “the fringe of his garment”. And was healed.

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A Very Present Help

Wed 18th Nov 2020

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1) - Prayer is not connecting with someone “out there”, but someone who was here all along. It is speaking to someone who already knows, and who is at hand. Someone who is “very present” as you chunter out your problems.

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Church History

The Reek of Master Patrick Hamilton

Tue 17th Nov 2020

If you go to St Andrews and make your way to the University chapel you will find in the pavement just outside some letters made out in brick. They read “PH” and mark the spot on which a young man was burnt for his faith.

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Water on a Thirsty Land

Mon 16th Nov 2020

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. (Isaiah 44:3-4) - Oh those times when you feel spiritually dry! You have no enthusiasm, and you cannot bring yourself to pray. If you find yourself athirst for the living God, then the answer does not lie in looking inward. It lies in looking up.

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The One Who Made Us

Sat 14th Nov 2020

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3) - You owe your very existence to God. Surely that stirs within you both gratitude and duty!

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Hymn Stories

Peace, Perfect Peace

Fri 13th Nov 2020

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) - Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within. Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed? To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

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Love the Lord Your God

Thu 12th Nov 2020

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5) - In Christianity there are no more sacrifices to offer, as Jesus has made the only sacrifice necessary on the cross. All that is left to do is love God, and allow that love of God to flow through into love of neighbour.

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Exalted by being Humble

Wed 11th Nov 2020

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14) - To be clothed in humility before God is to allow yourself to be exalted by him. To exalt yourself is simply a path to disappointment.

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Church History

Martin of Tours

Tue 10th Nov 2020

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. (Luke 6:30) - Martin of Tours is an important figure in the history of the church, rising to become Bishop of Tours where he founded a monastery and set up a basic parish system for the area. His most famous act does not come from this time, though, but rather from when he was a teenaged soldier.

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Gaining Your Desires

Mon 09th Nov 2020

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) - The more you find delight in God, the more you desire to follow him and the more he gives you those desires. You come to desire the same thing as God.

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Sundays

The Wise and Foolish Virgins

Sun 08th Nov 2020

But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ (Matthew 25:6-10) - Don’t put off getting the oil to another day, or thinking that someone else’s oil will do for you too. You cannot cash in a future promise of faith, or rely on someone else’s faith. When the bridegroom comes, the question is a simple one. Where is your oil?

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Call on the Name of the Lord

Sat 07th Nov 2020

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Joel 2:32) - Christianity really is that simple, but how often we find it the hardest thing in the world! How often do you hunt for salvation in family, friends, money, health or causes? Sometimes the easiest thing can be the hardest: simple trust.

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Hymn Stories

The Dangers of Promiscuous Singing

Fri 06th Nov 2020

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16) - Do we sing hymns without paying much attention to the words? Do we accept the words, but not ask ourselves if they a right? Oh! Dear reader! Beware “promiscuous singing”!

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Emotions and God

Thu 05th Nov 2020

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (John 6:37).- There are times, many times, when we feel spiritually low but we mustn’t ever believe that is a result of God changing his relationship to us. Rather, like the sun on a cloudy day, we just can’t feel his warmth at the moment. Keep praying, keep following and the cloud will dissipate

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Can you Flee God’s Presence?

Wed 04th Nov 2020

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7–8) - As we face the prospect of church services once again being stopped, we should take comfort from Psalm 139. It is not possible to be absent from God. Or, to put it another way, it is not possible for God to be absent from you!

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Church History

Charles Simeon

Tue 03rd Nov 2020

Aged only twenty-three, a young Charles Simeon (1759-1836) found himself an unpopular figure. Worse, his unpopularity sprang from his own church. Services were disrupted, and abuse was thrown at young Simeon as he walked through the streets.

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Anxiety

Mon 02nd Nov 2020

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (Proverbs 12:25) - Perhaps the “good word” you can cling to at this time is that God “cares for you”. As we consciously place ourselves under the “mighty hand of God” we can be confident that he will see us through. The life of the Christian is often not easy, and Jesus never promised it would be. What he did promise, though, was that it is not lonely. “I am with you always”, he said.

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Sundays

The Poor in Spirit

Sun 01st Nov 2020

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:3-5) - If you are poor, and lack food, your hunger keeps reinforcing the fact that you need help. If you are poor in spirit, then you recognise your need of God. You are not reliant upon your own spiritual prowess, or goodness. You know you are dependant on another. And then the kingdom of heaven is yours. You can only enter empty-handed.

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Sin

Sat 31st Oct 2020

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15) - Sin is not something which the church should be ashamed of. It is not a word or concept we should hide. Rather, to acknowledge sin is to be honest about yourself, and then to glory in God’s forgiveness. That’s why a loss of an understanding of sin is so costly.

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Hymn Stories

Onward Christian Soldiers

Fri 30th Oct 2020

“May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfil all your petitions!” (Psalm 20:5) - Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the Cross of Jesus Going on before. Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe, forward into battle, see, His banners go

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Romans

Who Can Condemn?

Thu 29th Oct 2020

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34) - It is this ‘givenness’ which gives Paul such a strong assurance and hope. Rather than relying on his own frailties, he is relying God. The more we acknowledge God is sovereign, the more peace we will find.

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Romans

God’s Hand in Salvation

Wed 28th Oct 2020

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27) - Our emotions, our moods are not an indicator of how we are with God, simply an indicator of how we are with ourselves. The more we realise our reliance upon God, the more we can trust out futures to him.

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Church History

The Vision at the Bridge

Tue 27th Oct 2020

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) - 1,708 ago, to this day, a young man had a vision. He was leading a great army, one of the greatest assembled at that time, and was awaiting the battle which would surely take place the next day.

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Romans

Groanings

Mon 26th Oct 2020

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18) - We “wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”. Whilst those around us might count their lives in decades, we count ours in eternity.

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Sundays

One Bible

Sun 25th Oct 2020

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet” ’? - And in the glorious sweep of the history of Israel, and the ever widening sweep of the history of God saving his people, it is always the same person ‘whodunnit’. Which is why we are called Christians.

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Romans

Adopted

Sat 24th Oct 2020

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8: 14 -15) - Our standing before God is not dependant on where we come from, or who we are, but simply on adoption. Adopted by God! What an image!

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Hymn Stories

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Fri 23rd Oct 2020

Hail to the Lord's Anointed! Great David's greater Son; Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free; To take away transgression, and rule in equity. - James Montgomery was a prolific poet and hymn writer, with over four-hundred hymns to his name. He ended up as an editor of a newspaper in Sheffield, and was twice imprisoned for publishing poems which offended the authorities.

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Romans

Flesh and Spirit

Thu 22nd Oct 2020

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9–11)

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Romans

No Condemnation

Wed 21st Oct 2020

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1) - Christ was sent in the “likeness of sinful flesh” and lived a perfect life. He fulfilled the Old Testament Law, and his perfection “condemned sin in the flesh”

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Church History

Annie Warfield

Tue 20th Oct 2020

In the late nineteenth century there was no-one quite like Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. A great scholar based at the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary he was such a staunch defender of traditional, orthodox Christianity that he was given the nickname “Lion of Princeton”.

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Romans

The Riches of Romans 8

Mon 19th Oct 2020

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-8)

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Sundays

Render

Sun 18th Oct 2020

“Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marvelled. And they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:22) - We are living rather like ex-pats on the Algarve, citizens of heaven living in the midst of earth. We may walk the same streets and eat the same food, but ultimately our loyalty lies elsewhere.

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The Rock

Sat 17th Oct 2020

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3–4) - In the midst of the swirls of history, God stands as an “everlasting rock”. If you place your trust in him, then you find you have “perfect peace”.

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Hymn Stories

A Mighty Fortress is our God

Fri 16th Oct 2020

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46:1–2) - A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing: Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work his woe; His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

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Breakfast Time

Thu 15th Oct 2020

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12) - There is something comforting about the way in which Jesus dealt with his disciples after the resurrection. There they are, seven of them, bobbing away on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, fishing. A figure calls out from the shore, asking if they have any fish, and they call back: “no”. He calls back, telling them to cast out the net on the other side, and they do just that. The result is a net so full of fish they could not haul it in. That’s when one of them recognises that it is Jesus.

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Be Doers

Wed 14th Oct 2020

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22–24) - Around me lie the broken scraps of many good intentions. They litter the carpet like straw on a stable floor, thickly piling up in the corners. Our beliefs should result in actions as we put what he have heard from Jesus into action. He will strengthen us as we seek to live out the Christian life.

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Church History

Latimer and Ridley

Tue 13th Oct 2020

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39) - If you wander down Broad Street in Oxford you will see a cross in the road, marked out in pale bricks. This Friday marks the 465th anniversary of the Martydom of Nicholas Ridley (bishop of London) and Hugh Latimer (one time bishop of Worcester).

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Being Found

Mon 12th Oct 2020

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) - There is a wonderful hope contained in this verse: it is Christ who seeks us out. It is not a case of finding Christ, but being found by him. It is impossible to be lost when you are in the flock of the good shepherd, so when you do feel spiritually alone then pray and hope.

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Sundays

Peace

Sun 11th Oct 2020

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) - When you are anxious, do follow Paul’s advice: restore your horizontal relationships with others; trust in your vertical relationship with God; and spend your time dwelling on what is good.

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A Soft Answer

Sat 10th Oct 2020

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) - In an increasingly strident world, some soft answers might be change we all need.

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Hymn Stories

Come Ye Thankful People Come

Fri 09th Oct 2020

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest-home: all be safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin; God, our Maker, doth provide for our wants to be supplied; come to God's own temple, come; raise the song of harvest-home!

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True Worship

Thu 08th Oct 2020

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51:16-19) - There remains a danger that worship can become mechanical. We say the right words, turn up at the right time and go home again. We run on auto-pilot, and the all too familiar words simply wash over us.

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Bearing Witness

Wed 07th Oct 2020

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. (Psalm 51:13-15) - Many people are, I know, anxious about talking to people about their faith as they fear they will not have all the answers. The point is that you don’t need all the answers in order to simply say why Christianity is important to you.

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Church History Tuesday

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Tue 06th Oct 2020

David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was… (1 Chronicles 25:1) - Amongst the many books in his library is an edition of the Bible which contains his own handwritten annotations, and one of these can be found alongside 1 Chronicles 25, a chapter which describes King David organising the musicians. Bach wrote: “NB, This chapter is the true foundation for all church music that is pleasing to God.”

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