Monthly Message Nov 2019

Traditionally, November is a month for remembering.  It begins with the invitation to “Remember…the fifth of November” and all that goes with that. Then, six days later, more widely and more seriously, we remember all those who fell in two World Wars. I suspect that the great majority of people are now rather vague about, or quite unaware of, the historical facts surrounding the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.  Furthermore, since the Second World War is now an event that ended before most people alive today were born the task of maintaining 11th November Remembrance as something meaningful to them is becoming increasingly challenging.  But the wasteful folly of war and the sacrifice and suffering of those involved in war must never be forgotten.  Have we produced a generation that is largely concerned about the present?  If we live only in the present then everything, from coffee to information, has to be instant.  The past fast loses its significance and the future – well who knows about that?  But some apparently do! And we are being told there might only be a few years of future left!  Will that make the past less significant than ever, and the present just a mess for which the older generation must take the blame?  If that is so, will not our society become still more divided against itself, peace more hard to find, and moral and spiritual guideposts elusive or confusing?

The apostle Peter, writing in his second letter, brings us back to the foundation of our faith and the need to remember.  He is concerned that we, his readers, do not forget the great truths of the gospel and the great need to be effective and productive in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.[1] Therefore he says: “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.  And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things”.[2]

 Our nation needs to be reminded (or, in many cases, informed for the first time) of the truths and the power of the gospel. As Christians, we believe that God has given us the way to live, the way to peace and a clean conscience before him and the way to eternal life, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”[3]  Sadly, it is all too easy to forget these things.   One of the reasons that Saffron Walden Bible Focus came into being was to make a small contribution to the great task that faces the church in every age to remind, to refresh the memory, to enable to remember the truth, the authority, the power and the grace of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Having now held our third event, I want to take this opportunity of thanking you for your involvement and encouragement, and to give God the glory for all that he has done. Let us, with confidence and prayerful dependence upon him, continue on together in this glorious and exciting task.

 

Tony Mason

(Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus)

 

[1] II Peter 1:8

[2] II Peter 1:12-15 (emphasis mine)

[3] II Peter 1:3

Monthly Message Oct 2019

What a day of blessing it was at the last Bible Focus on September 21st.  Thank you so much for coming, and if you were unable to you can hear the talks on our website here.  Do reserve the date for next year’s event: 12th September, at the same venue.

Our English word ‘hope’ tends to be used in a rather tentative way; for example, “I hope it will be fine tomorrow” when I don’t really know if it will be or not.  But not so the New Testament word ‘hope’.  It translates a word that implies a definite expectation. The NT idea of hope is a promise that is yet to be fulfilled, but it is certain because it is a promise of God.  That is why we can say, of a believer, in the funeral service: “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life”.

Not surprisingly, I suppose, that kind of hope is not common in today’s society.  If God is not taken seriously then his promises will not be either, and there will be little hope.  Sadly, the long drawn-out Brexit affair is likely to sap many hopes and the drastic actions of the Extinction Rebellion activists depict near despair rather than any hope.

Now it may very well be true that our planet is heading towards destruction, but as Christians we need not fear that that is because everything is out of control.  Far from it.  God is always in control, over and above all human disobedience and folly.

This is what the apostle Peter has to say (II Peter 3:10-13):  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.   But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness”.

 It will be the Lord’s sovereign doing, whatever means he chooses to accomplish it.  What a blessed hope the believer has in the Lord Jesus Christ – a home of righteousness awaiting!  What a hope to hold on to!  What a challenge to how we live! What a message to share to a world without hope!

My prayer for you is in the words of Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

 Yours in Christ,

Tony

 

Monthly Message Sep 2019

Has this country faced such a major crisis as we face now since the Second World War?  Then, of course, we knew what (and whom) we were facing, but today it is very complex.  Trust is at a premium, and it seems that the future has never been more uncertain.  I feel inadequate to comment on our present national situation, yet it would surely be wrong, at this precise time, to ignore it for a lesser topic.

Permit me, therefore, to share with you a few Scriptures which I pray will bring us all some encouragement.

How appropriate is this year’s Bible Focus theme – “Who is Jesus?”  He alone has, and he alone is, the answer to every human need.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”.  (Proverbs 3:5,6).  Impossible though it may seem, we need to pray that the nation will once again acknowledge the Lord.

We are not an insignificant minority wanting to foist our religious viewpoint on others; rather we have come to know, by grace, the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the great Ruler before whom every other ruler must, sooner or later, bow.  Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles . The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”  (Psalm 2:1-6)

 King Jehoshaphat of Judah found himself up against a vast enemy army (II Chron 20).  “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from every town in Judah to seek him”. (v4).  Then Jehoshaphat led them in prayer, concluding with: “O our God…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v12).  Britain needs political leadership, but we also need spiritual leadership.  And we also need a unity that overrides difference of opinion.  None of that appears to be on the horizon at the moment, but I am convinced it is far from simplistic to pray with the humility and faith with which Jehoshaphat prayed: “We do not know what do, but our eyes are upon you.”

 “Who is Jesus?”  He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  Our destiny, security, hope and wisdom is in Him and Him alone.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I really look forward to seeing many of you at Bible Focus on September 21st, at to being strengthened and encouraged and focused afresh on our reigning Lord and Saviour. “He is the true God and eternal life.”  (I John 5:20).

Tony