The Rectory Bulletin
Sundays

What is the Kingdom of God?

Sun 25th Jul 2021

When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:14-15) - Never be satisfied with a merely external or physical form of faith. Embrace the Kingdom of God! Allow God to reign, and be transformed. Earthly kingdoms come and go, but the Kingdom of God lasts forever.

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Sundays

The Shepherd

Sun 18th Jul 2021

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:30-31) - So it is that Jesus the good shepherd is in fact the LORD returning to shepherd his people, those sheep without a shepherd. He is, as Isaiah foresees, the “righteous Branch” of King David. He is the one from the line of David who will reign. He is the one who will bring Salvation to Judah. He is the one who is called “The LORD is our righteousness”.

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Chronological Snobbery

Sat 17th Jul 2021

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) - Oh Christian, you stand at the forefront of twenty centuries of the church! The pages of the past are written with tales of our spiritual forebears, and their words still ring clear. The history of the church is our family history, and enriches our experience of the present. Be wary of falling for something simply because it’s new. Often it isn’t, it’s just something which was dismissed in the past and then forgotten.

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Books

Fri 16th Jul 2021

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (1 Timothy 4:13) - So where to start? That is a more difficult question now than it was twenty years ago. By and large Christian bookshops have disappeared, and even a city as large as Bristol has none. Surprisingly, though, there are two near us: one in Newent with a cafe attached, and another in Bromyard. Neither are huge, but they do give an opportunity to flip through some pages before you buy.

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Why Bother with Prayer?

Thu 15th Jul 2021

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) - At its base, prayer is consciously being in the presence of God. It is talking to God. It is an awareness that this is a place where God is, and that makes a difference. Some prayer may be wordless - at times words are hard to find - or a pouring out of the heart. It might be silent, spoken or written. Perhaps the written prayers of others might act as a ‘starter’ to begin prayer, or it might be that your own words flow more easily. Some wrestle in prayer at night, others might speak a single line in the midst of the day.

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Why the Bible?

Wed 14th Jul 2021

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105) - In the Scriptures we have a document which spans many centuries, and has stood the test of the passing millennia. The church through the ages has attested to its inspired nature, and is has proved to be the link between us now and the church throughout the ages. Given it is the “Word of the Lord” it has an eternal relevance, and can also serve to challenge our sometimes lazy presuppositions.

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Influence

Tue 13th Jul 2021

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16) - Christianity is not a private affair, but is lived out in the public sphere. As God has done good for us, so we do good for others and thereby win influence for the gospel.

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The Bishop of our Souls

Mon 12th Jul 2021

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25) - Sheep are not the brightest of beasts, and are prone to wander. Any small hole in a hedge poses a challenge, any gap is a call to escape. The thing with sheep is that they thoroughly enjoy wandering off, as if they were browsing the hedges for bargains. And such were we, but now the great shepherd of our souls has rounded us up and brought us to rich pastures. Now we graze under his protective eye. Yet this shepherd is more than simply an external guide, he is also the “overseer of your souls”. He it is who, though our consciences, prods us onto the right paths.

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Sundays

The Sorry Tale of King Herod

Sun 11th Jul 2021

And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. (Mark 6:26) - Herod and John. One who looked around for approval, and the other who only looked up. One who only listened, and the other who also acted. One who held all that he had close to him, and the other who put it all in God’s hands. Two choices as to how to live are clearly laid out in front of us.

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Being Courteous

Sat 10th Jul 2021

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8-9) - Courtesy is a child of grace, and as Christians we have received extraordinary grace from God. As we receive, so we give. As one much forgiven we forgive much. As one on whom Christ had compassion, we are compassionate to others. As we follow a much mocked and insulted Christ, we endure those insults in good humour.

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Providence

Keep Watch!

Fri 09th Jul 2021

The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. (Ecclesiastes 2:14) - The calling of God is a calling not only to believe certain things, but also to put them into practice. It is as these two aspects align themselves that true satisfaction is found. To walk out your faith is to find a path to contentment. It is also a deep witness to your faith - you are willing to put it into practice.

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Providence

Alone

Wed 07th Jul 2021

“For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10) - The history of the church is long, and often perilous. At times persecutions break out, and great pressure is put on Christians to abandon their faith. At other times, though, the pressure is subtler and far more dangerous for the future of the church.

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Providence

Walking in the Way

Tue 06th Jul 2021

And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16) - For many long centuries we have seen ourselves as a Christian nation, and so to walk the Christian path has been straightforward. Now, though, the Christian walk might be different to societies norms. No matter. In the end there is only one path which leads to “peace and mercy”.

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Providence

Living Out Your High Calling

Mon 05th Jul 2021

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1). - William Dobbie was a staunch Christian, and would often surprise dinner guests by calling them to prayer at the end of meals. In Parliament, Churchill once said of him: “That remarkable man, General Dobbie — a Cromwellian figure at a key point, fighting with his Bible in one hand and his sword in the other.” ... You have been called to a task, and to a way of life. God calls you by name, and says follow.

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Sundays

Letting Jesus Be Jesus

Sun 04th Jul 2021

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” - To put it simply, ask yourself this question: who is Jesus to you? Is he someone you’ve created in your own image, a better version of yourself at your best. Have you stripped him of his glory, of his divinity, and made him simply a good teacher? Have you created an imaginary Messiah, or allowed Jesus to speak for himself?

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Providence

Pray for Them

Sat 03rd Jul 2021

But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ (Luke 15:17-19). - The interesting phrase here is: “he came to himself”. I am sure we all have friends and family who are not Christian, and maybe they have been dismissive of any conversation about the faith for many years. This doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of the matter: you can still pray. Pray that the person will “come to himself”. The prodigal was not with anyone when this took place, he was simply by himself

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Providence

Oh the Wonderful Grace of God

Fri 02nd Jul 2021

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. (Psalm 152:1-2) - The wonderful thing is that the more you realise the holy vastness of God, the smaller you feel. The smaller you feel, the more you realise how gracious God is in dealing with you. How marvellous it is to be able to rely upon an entirely dependable God! Oh the joy of receiving the grace of God.

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Providence

Afflictions

Thu 01st Jul 2021

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) - At times God uses our afflictions to draw us to him. At other times, we struggle with something or other which reminds us that we are not as perfect we as think. And then we fall upon God’s grace. Afflictions are, as in the case with the Apostle Paul, a means to a greater glory

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