The Rectory Bulletin

The Sin against God

Wed 30th Sep 2020

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (Psalm 51:3–4) - A guilty conscience needn’t stay guilty if it leads to repentance and seeking mercy from God.

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Church History

Dirk Willems

Tue 29th Sep 2020

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30) - In the spring of 1596, Dirk Willems was fleeing from prison. He’d knotted rags together to make a makeshift rope and lowered himself down onto the moat of the prison. The temperature was low, and the water was capped with ice, so the prisoner raced off. A “thief-catcher” was in pursuit.

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The Prayer of the Guilty

Mon 28th Sep 2020

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:1–2) - There is a lesson in this for us all. Guilt is only dealt with on your knees.

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Sundays

Justice

Sun 27th Sep 2020

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! (Ezekiel 18:30 - 31) - God is neither unjust nor unmerciful. We are fairly judged according to our deeds, and against the standards he has clearly set out in the scriptures. Yet we always, always have the chance to “turn and live”. God desires the death of no-one, but rather to be reconciled.

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The Guilt of King David

Sat 26th Sep 2020

To the choirmaster. A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. (Psalm 51, Title) - Then the guilt rushed in. Nathan’s parable had brought home to David what he had done. He turned to prayer, not afraid to bring his guilt to the God who already knew of it.

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Hymn Stories

Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

Fri 25th Sep 2020

It is Pentecost in 1862, some one hundred and twenty years after Watts’ death, and a great open air service is in play. Missionaries have brought the gospel to the Island of Tonga, and it now considers itself Christian. As the singing begins, those who can understand the local language would have been able to discern the words of Watts’ setting of Psalm 72 coming through: Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth its successive journeys run; His Kingdoms stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

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I Will Be With You

Thu 24th Sep 2020

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isaiah 43:2–3) - There isn’t a path round the fire, we just have to go on through. We go on though, but we don’t go on through alone. “I will be with you” says God. We don’t escape, but we do have help. Allow the presence of God to give you courage. You are not alone, for “I will be with you” says the Lord.

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Praying to a Father

Wed 23rd Sep 2020

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8) - God is always ahead of us, and our worrying (“carking” as Manton puts it) is needless.

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Church History

The Swiss Sausage

Tue 22nd Sep 2020

And [Jesus] said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” Thus he declared all foods clean. (Mark 7:18-20) - It was Lent in Zurich in the year 1522. The printer, Christoph Froschauer, decided to give them a meal and so they tucked into some dried smoked sausage. Two of the three priests joined in too.

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The Heart in Prayer

Mon 21st Sep 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. (Romans 8:26) - When you find yourself lost for words in prayer, do not be dismayed. Your heart can pray when your tongue cannot. Simply sit before God, and allow your feelings to speak for you.

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Sundays

Is it Fair?

Sun 20th Sep 2020

Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. (Matthew 20:16) - God doesn’t give up on us in our younger years but he can issue his call at any time, even the eleventh hour. To be called late is not disgrace, to be called early is no hard work. The main thing is this: are you a citizen or not?

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Let God be God

Sat 19th Sep 2020

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Matthew 6:7) - Eccles. 5:2, ‘Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few.’ Remember, you have to do with a great God, and do not babble things over impertinently in his ears. (Thomas Manton)

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Hymn Stories

The God of Abraham Praise

Fri 18th Sep 2020

The God of Abraham praise, Who reigns enthroned above; Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love; Jehovah, Great I AM - Orphaned when only four, Thomas Olivers was an apprentice shoemaker in that small village. He was also a youth with a bad reputation. In fact, his reputation was so bad that in his late teens he had to leave the village, and so he made his way to Bristol. There he came across George Whitefield.

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Chattering Prayers

Thu 17th Sep 2020

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8). - “Go, chatter out thy requests to thy Father”. Just speak to God, just lay it all out before him.

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The Prayers that are Noticed

Wed 16th Sep 2020

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) - No prayer is overlooked. No cry is unheard. The room with a shut door is as much a house of prayer as the grandest cathedral. God hears.

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Church History

Dr & Mrs Luther

Tue 15th Sep 2020

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4) - The life of the Luthers reminds us of the great truth that the home is a little church. God does not simply reside in old stone buildings, but lives in our homes. A great comfort that can be.

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The Soil the Nourishes

Mon 14th Sep 2020

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. (Deuteronomy 32:7) - There is great benefit from reading older authors as they can help you question your assumptions.

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Sundays

Guilt, Grace and Forgiveness

Sun 13th Sep 2020

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21) - “We are beggars: that’s the truth”. As he lay dying, Luther's final words reflected on this truth which had lay at the heart of the entire Reformation project: “we are beggars: that’s the truth”.

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Assurance

Sat 12th Sep 2020

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:13) - And so to the end of 1 John, and the apostle gives us the reason why he put pen to paper. The believers in the church had been shaken by the presence of some false teachers. They were doubting that they had eternal life. They had lost confidence.

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Hymn Stories

William Cowper

Fri 11th Sep 2020

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” (John 13:7) - William Cowper (1731-1800) was not a man who had an easy life, and was prone to what might be today called manic depression. Yet he found solace in his hymn writing. Such is the testimony of a man who struggled his entire life, and yet found solace in the providence of God.

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God and Man

Thu 10th Sep 2020

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. (1 John 5:9-10) - John was adamant that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He really was fully human and fully divine.

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What does ‘Believe in Jesus” mean?

Wed 09th Sep 2020

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments (1 John 5:1-2) - Believing in Jesus is to see him as the fulfilment of the Old Testament, anointed by God and of divine origin.

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Church History

Luther, the Fish Merchant & the Escaping Nuns

Tue 08th Sep 2020

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33) - As the Reformation swept Germany, the convents began to empty as their nuns decided that life would be better outside their secluded walls. So it was that on the day before Easter, 1523 Leonard Kopp hurried twelve nuns onto his wagon before covering them over.

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Fear Cast Out

Mon 07th Sep 2020

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18) - Here is the joy of Christianity: knowing that when Jesus, on the cross, breathed out the words “It is finished”, it truly was. That is why we “may have confidence for the day of judgment”. Because “it is finished”. No more punishment is due.

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Sundays

Dealing with Conflict

Sun 06th Sep 2020

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (Matthew 18:15-16) - There is a pastoral and caring approach here, a chance for repentance in private given first. There is no rushing to public shaming, but even this step might prove ineffective, so a last one is given: excommunication.

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God is Love

Sat 05th Sep 2020

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7) - Love is all the more profound when it is directed at those who might be said to be unlovely.

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Hymn Stories

O Worship the Lord

Fri 04th Sep 2020

Worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! (Psalm 96:9) - O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; bow down before him, his glory proclaim; with gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness, kneel and adore him: the Lord is his name.

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Test the Spirits

Thu 03rd Sep 2020

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1–3) - Christianity is a beautiful tapestry of finely intertwined doctrines. They fit together, and work together. Beware any who seek to remove one cog or another, because the machine will simply then not work. “Test the spirits”!

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The Commandment of God

Wed 02nd Sep 2020

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21) - It is not because God is some sort of transcendental Santa, but because if we keep his commandments then inevitably our desires will align with his will.

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Church History

Tyndale’s Final Letter

Tue 01st Sep 2020

William Tyndale stands as one of the great men of this country of ours. His burning desire was to put the scriptures into the hands of the people. Whilst imprisoned he wrote a letter, the only one of his which survives, which gives us a fascinating glimpse into the life and cares of this remarkable man. Hero of the faith he may be, but he is also as human as any other. "I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose Spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen."

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