The Rectory Bulletin
Sunday

The Soul

Sun 28th Feb 2021

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35–38) - To whom will you auction your soul?

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Isaiah 6

The God who is Seen

Sat 27th Feb 2021

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1) - At the beginning of this passage is the phrase “I saw the Lord”. Now, this is a curious thing! There is a long tradition in the Old Testament that God cannot be seen. In fact, in Exodus 33:20 we read “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live”! And yet, Isaiah writes that he saw God. And lived.

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Hymn Story

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Fri 26th Feb 2021

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8) - Reginald Heber (1783-1826) was a son of Cheshire and gained a reputation as a poet when he studied in Oxford. On graduation he made a grand tour of Russia, Scandinavia and central Europe but young Heber soon returned to Hodnet, Shropshire where he took on the parish from his father. It was here that Heber penned ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, which was first sung on a Trinity Sunday. It speaks of John’s vision in Revelation and presents us with God, magnificent in his three-fold glory.

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Isaiah 6

Woe is me!

Thu 25th Feb 2021

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5) - To see ourselves in the light of God is humbling, but it is also glorious when we then realise that nonetheless God loves us, calls us and forgives us. This is the “Amazing Grace” of which Newton wrote, the grace which God shows even when we are shabby

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Isaiah 6

Holy, Holy, Holy

Wed 24th Feb 2021

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1–5) - The essence of God is holiness. We might seek God’s blessing or his comfort. We might seek God’s guidance, or praise his mighty acts. All this is well and good, but we must remember that above all God is holy. And that is humbling.

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Church History

Thomas Goodwin

Tue 23rd Feb 2021

On this day in 1680 one Thomas Goodwin breathed his last. Here, in the life of this one man, is a snapshot of England in the 1600s. A period of great religious turmoil, where many good and great preachers were marginalised. However, Goodwin’s works remain available today in twelve volumes, so perhaps you can’t keep a good man down!

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Places in the Bible

Capernaum

Mon 22nd Feb 2021

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home”. (Mark 2:1) - The village saw Jesus teach and also work many miracles. It was here that Jairus’ daughter was healed, as was Peter’s mother-in-law. A paralysed man was let down through the roof of a house in Capernaum, and walked out a healed man. In such a small place all this, along with other miracles, surely would have set tongues wagging away but ultimately they too rejected Jesus.

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Sundays

A Gentle Word about Satan

Sun 21st Feb 2021

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:12-13) - Whatever you do, though, do not fall into the trap of thinking that temptation separates you from God. Don’t worry about your status as a Christian. Christ was tempted, and you will be too. Remember that these things come from outside, and then they are easier to deal with.

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Mark

And they came…

Sat 20th Feb 2021

“And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men”. (Mark 2:3) - In our day and age self-reliance is trumpeted, and self-help abounds. There is a danger in this, since the point of the Christian faith is a reliance upon God. To acknowledge your need of God is not to be weak. It is simply to be honest.

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Hymn Stories

How Great Thou Art

Fri 19th Feb 2021

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee. How great Thou art, how great Thou art! - So from Sweden - via Estonia, Russia, Ukraine and America - the hymns has passed through four languages. The praise of God is truly an international affair, as the first verse of the shortest Psalm bears witness: “Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!” (Psalm 117:1)

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O Lord GOD, you know

Thu 18th Feb 2021

And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” (Ezekiel 37:3) - Our darkest moments are often produced by the sense that we are alone, that no-one else quite understands. Our deepest frustrations can be caused by an inability to express ourselves clearly. The sense is there in our hearts, but it just will not come out coherently. It is in those moments that the knowledge that God already knows the contents of our hearts can be a consolation.

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The Sure Foundation

Wed 17th Feb 2021

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10–11) - The most important bit of a building is the bit you can’t see: the foundation. If these are poorly laid then it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the building is, it will fail.

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Church History

The Countess of Huntingdon

Tue 16th Feb 2021

On 13th October 1746 Theophilus Hastings, ninth Earl of Huntingdon, breathed his last. His widow, the Countess Selina, faced a choice and she turned to the Methodist preacher Howell Harris. He later wrote: “She consulted me about which was it best, to live retired and give up all, or fill her place, and I said the latter I thought was right”. The Countess heeded his advice, and thus a great influence on the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century was begun.

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Places in the Bible

Nazareth

Mon 15th Feb 2021

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) - This was the region which produced the Son of God. A rebellious backwater with deep gentile roots. A place of battles against the surrounding nations, and a place which eventually rejected Jesus. A place he left as he moved to Capernaum, and we will join him there next week.

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Sundays

The Transfiguration

Sun 14th Feb 2021

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. (Mark 9:2-3) - The Transfiguration helps you to set “your mind on the things of God”. It gives us a brief glimpse of the unveiled nature of Christ, and demonstrates his divinity. It stops us having a merely human Jesus, but demonstrates a Christ who is both human and divine. It’s full of Old Testament imagery, but the conclusion is clear: behold your God!

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Looking back…

Sat 13th Feb 2021

“Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24) - What wisdom there is in building your own Ebenezers, reminders of God’s help to you in the past. These monuments not only demonstrate God’s blessings to you, but also give you courage when the skies darken.

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Psalms

Psalm 34

Fri 12th Feb 2021

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD;let the humble hear and be glad.Oh, magnify the LORD with me,and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34) - This is another of David’s ‘psalms on the run’, composed when he was on the run from King Saul. He had arrived in Gath, but his military fame had gone before him.

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Look up!

Thu 11th Feb 2021

“And looking up to heaven, he sighed …” (Mark 7:34) - There are many different things which might prompt a person to pray. Some give thanks, others ask for help in danger. Extremes of emotion, or abnormal situations, can cause prayer to form in the mind. Sighing, though, is rather more mundane. Sighs are the small drops which puddle into gloom. Let them also be a prompt for your prayer, and you will discover that sighs soon evaporate in the radiance of God. When you sigh, make sure to look up to heaven.

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Genesis

I am with you

Wed 10th Feb 2021

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land” (Genesis 28:15) - The path may be tough at times, we may even go through “the valley of the shadow of death”, but the Shepherd will ensure we get to our destination.

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Church History

The Martyred Bishop of Gloucester

Tue 09th Feb 2021

On February 9th 1555 John Hooper, went through the streets of Gloucester. It was early - eight in the morning - but already crowds had gathered to see him. They knew him of course, he had been bishop of that city, but now he was being led as a prisoner towards to the stake in what would be his final journey.

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Lockdown Tour of the Holy Land

Bethlehem

Mon 08th Feb 2021

“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) - All these facts converge on Jesus in a remarkable way. He is the “bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:41) and the “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He is the “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14), one from the line of David. Bethlehem, then, is the perfect place for Jesus’ birth. A small village with a rich legacy.

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Sundays

Who Is Jesus?

Sun 07th Feb 2021

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16) - Who do you think Jesus is? Think carefully. Don’t be satisfied with anything less than “God” as the answer. Anything less cannot save you.

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Jesus’ Prayer for You

Sat 06th Feb 2021

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,” (John 17:20–22) - In this phrase Jesus reaches across the centuries and speaks of you. He brings you before his Heavenly Father and prays for you. What a thought! The Son brings you before the Father.

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Psalms

The Cave (Psalm 142)

Fri 05th Feb 2021

A Maskil of David, When He Was in the Cave. A Prayer. With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him;I tell my trouble before him. (Psalm 142) - This psalm speaks to the despair of being alone and of being in trouble. Abandoned, David has been thrown onto the mercy of God and he pours out his heart before him.

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Timing

Thu 04th Feb 2021

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18) - Patience may be a hard lesson, but a trust in God’s timing is a fine remedy and in God’s good time you will be able to testify with David: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

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Walking with Christ

Wed 03rd Feb 2021

And by this we know that we have come to know [Jesus], if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:3–6) - The Christian life can be a struggle, but when you are struggling with something, when you find a commandment of Jesus hard to keep the answer is not sheer hard work. In those cases it is good to turn back to basics and ask yourself if you are abiding in Christ.

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Church History

From Gloucester to Georgia

Tue 02nd Feb 2021

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) - On this day in 1738, a man in his early twenties wrote in his journal: “About Ten o’Clock there sprang up a pleasant fair Gale, which carried us from the Downsnear forty Miles that Day”. So it is that young George Whitefield set sail for his first trip to Georgia, keen to be missionary in the American colonies.

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Proverbs

Shhhh!

Mon 01st Feb 2021

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19) - To be slow to speech is to be free of the tyranny of always having an opinion. The danger of many words, is that they can lead to transgression.

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