The Rectory Bulletin
Sundays

One with Authority

Sun 31st Jan 2021

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21–28) - At simply a word, the unclean spirit is dismissed. No wonder all were amazed! They had heard the authority in Jesus teaching, and then had it demonstrated to them in the casting out of the spirit. Here was something new.

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The Advocate

Sat 30th Jan 2021

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins. (1 St. John 2.1) - The great act of faith which lies at the beginning of each Christian life to throw yourself upon Christ, and allow him to deal with your sin. To think that you can do it yourself, is simply a great act of folly.

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Psalms

The Wilderness (Psalm 63)

Fri 29th Jan 2021

“A Psalm of David, When He Was in the Wilderness of Judah” (Psalm 63) - Many of you will be shielding at home, and facing Sundays separated from the church building and its congregation. Perhaps you might use this Psalm as a guide for your prayers, as you long to be back.

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Should We Still Use the Word “Sinners”?

Thu 28th Jan 2021

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 St. Timothy 1.15) - So, sinner: rejoice! God does not insist you have to be perfect before you come to him, all he desires is that you acknowledge you are not perfect. Christ was sent to deal with your sin, so cast it onto his shoulders. And leave it there.

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So God Loved

Wed 27th Jan 2021

So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (St. John 3.16) - These words strengthen as we realise the great activity of God, motivated by his love. As you receive the offer of Christ to come aboard, you are heartened by the assurance that he can pull you from the water. The hand is outstretched - grab hold!

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Church History

The Voices Which Will Not Be Silenced

Tue 26th Jan 2021

“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) - Today is the anniversary of three events which shine a light into the corners of the Reformation, and illuminate the effect that this pivotal event had on different areas of life. When politics and the Christian faith clash, the authority of Christ wins out.

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Come unto me

Mon 25th Jan 2021

Come unto me all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. (Matthew 11.28) - These words strengthen us as we realise that there is a better way, and an offer of rest. Christ says come to those who are heavy-laden. Will you respond?

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Sundays

Water into Wine

Sun 24th Jan 2021

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew) (John 2:7-8) - What a sign, pointing all the way from Cana to Golgotha! An abundance of purifying, blood-red wine replacing the old purification rituals. Will you not drink?

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Proverbs

The Fear of the Lord

Sat 23rd Jan 2021

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7) - It is a reverence and humility before the one who made you, and holds your future in his hands. It is walking though life aware of his presence within you, and seeking to live in accordance with his will for you. It is honouring God, and approaching him with awe. It is knowing that he is the one who will judge, and who cannot be ignored. It is more, though. It is knowing that this one who is to be feared is the one who sent his Son to save you. The one who, when he draws near, says: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

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Psalm Friday

Betrayed

Fri 22nd Jan 2021

"O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth" (Psalm 54) - This Psalm was sung at a time of great danger, yet is speaks of a great trust in God. Even in times of great distress, God can be trusted to hear and help. He is the “upholder of my life”. When trouble strikes often your focus narrows on the issue at hand. Better to follow David’s example and lift your eyes to heaven.

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Proverbs

Truly Wise

Thu 21st Jan 2021

... to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles (Proverbs 1:6) - To be truly wise is to keep on learning. When you threw your satchel into the corner, and took off your school uniform that was not the end. The knowledge of God is joyous, and without end. Be wise, and be hearers of the Word of God!

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Proverbs

Wisdom in a Changing World

Wed 20th Jan 2021

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:5-6) - I suspect the Book of Proverbs is one of the lesser read books of the Bible, and yet it is rich in its wisdom. iI is a book which rewards gentle reading accompanied by much pondering. So pick up, and read.

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Church History

Amy Carmichael

Tue 19th Jan 2021

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) - Amy Carmichael was born in a small, coastal village on the east coast of Northern Ireland in 1867. The eldest of seven children, she was reputed to have been full of life and the happy child of devout parents. She once wrote of God that “it is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfil the desires which He creates”. Her life bore testimony to the truth of that statement.

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The Crushed and the Brokenhearted

Mon 18th Jan 2021

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) - If you are reading this, feeling crushed by ongoing restriction and loneliness then please do be assured of this: the LORD is near.

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Sundays

Come and See

Sun 17th Jan 2021

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:45-46) - It is our task to point people to Christ and give the indication “come and see”, but in the end it is Jesus who converts people. The task is in fact a straightforward one. Just say “come and see”. And then leave the rest to Jesus.

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Psalm 1

Like a Tree Planted

Sat 16th Jan 2021

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:3) - If you meditate on the scripture, and are carefully planted, you too will bear fruit “in season”. Perhaps that will be in a time of suffering, or in a time of great joy, but there is the confidence that the fruit will be there at the right time.

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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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Psalms

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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