Monthly Message Nov 2018

May I invite you to read John 21:15-19? Here we have a classic example of Jesus’ ministry of encouragement exercised towards Peter after he had let him down so badly by denying him at the moment when, one might say, he needed his support the most. While Jesus was being questioned by the high priest, Peter had been waiting outside the courtyard until he was given permission to go in. As he went in the girl on door-duty queried whether he was, in fact, a follower of Jesus. He flatly denied it. Once inside the courtyard Peter kept himself warm by a charcoal fire. Then someone else queried whether or not he was a disciple and again he denied it outright. And then a third person challenged him saying that he had seen him with Jesus in the olive grove. Now, not only did Peter deny his Lord – that alone would have been bad enough – but he did so having earlier protested his absolute and undying loyalty to Jesus.
Once, when Jesus and his disciples had been on their way to Caesarea Philippi, he had asked them who people were saying he was. They said that some were saying he was John the Baptist, returned to life, while others reckoned he was Elijah, or one of the prophets. Jesus then turned the question onto them and asked them who they themselves thought he was. It was Peter who came out straightaway with “You are the Christ”. On another occasion, when many of Jesus’ followers began to turn away because his teaching was too much for them to accept, it was Peter again who boldly asserted that there was no one else to turn to since Jesus had the words of eternal life. Then, just before his arrest, Jesus told his disciples what was about to happen to him and warned them that they would all fall away. Peter would not hear of it but declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not”. Then Jesus told Peter quite directly that that very night he would, in fact, deny him three times. Still he was not listening, still he was certain of his own commitment to his Lord saying, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you”. He had said he would never forsake Jesus, but when it came to the crunch he let him down badly. The encouraging thing about the story that unfolds in John 21 is that there was hope for Peter, there was a future for him, despite his serious lapse and, since not one of us is any better or any worse than Peter, there is hope and a future for us too! We were not there, of course, while Jesus was being questioned, vehemently denying any knowledge of him. But sometimes our behaviour, our words and often our silence are a denial that we have ever met the Christ. We all know people who have made mistakes and made a bit of a mess of their Christian life and witness and we may be tempted to write them off. In our worst moments we may feel inclined to write ourselves off, too, on account of some failure on our part. In our best moments we hope and pray for forgiveness and a fresh start, and the story of Peter assures us that such forgiveness and such a fresh start is available, from Jesus himself!

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

Monthly Message Oct 2018

First of all, heartfelt thanks to all who are reading this who made it to the second annual Bible Focus event on September 29th. I do hope you were greatly blessed by being there. It was good to see so many and I am only sorry that I couldn’t get to speak to everyone. For those of you who were unable to be there – we missed you and hope you can be with us next year: Saturday, 21st September. Alasdair Paine, from St Andrew the Great, Cambridge will be our speaker and further details will be available in due course.

If we are drivers we all know how essential it is to keep our eyes on the road! The writer to the Hebrews urges us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). Since that is what he is, how foolish to take our eyes off him!

On one occasion I was leading an encouragement day in London for a church that was affiliated to two denominations, with several members from other backgrounds as well. As the day progressed I sensed a timidity; it seemed as if one group did not want to propose anything that might make the other group uncomfortable. So, little if anything was undertaken and the church was in danger of getting into a rut. This became even clearer to me as I reflected upon the surprising statement someone made that it was not a very God-centered church! What is a church if it is not God-centered? My fear is that they had been so distracted through fear of upsetting those of other traditions that they had taken their eyes off the Lord, whom they were there to worship, serve and please. So there they were, at a low ebb, needing encouragement, and needing to refocus on the things that mattered.

One of Satan’s ploys in seeking to undermine the church is to distract our attention, to draw our focus away from Christ himself. If we take our eyes off Christ we shall soon lose sight of the great plan and purpose that God desires to accomplish in and though his church. When we lose sight of that many secondary purposes will claim prominence and the church will become absorbed in non-essentials and also weak and ineffective.

Paul writes in Colossians 1:8 concerning Christ that “he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy”. That is the criterion: that he might have the supremacy: supreme in our church programme, supreme in the use of church finances, supreme in the conduct of business meetings and appointment of leaders, supreme in our worship, our outreach, our fellowship and our mission.

Was it not encouraging to hear from John Risbridger some stories of the Lord powerfully at work in the lives of various individuals? Let’s pray that we shall see more of that in our own churches as we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”.

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

Monthly Message Sep 2018


My name is Sandie Turner, a member of the Saffron Walden Bible Focus team. You will probably find me helping with the music or setting up the PA system!

When I was at school we were taught never to start a sentence with the word “but”. Yet one of my favourite verses in the bible, begins in exactly that way:

“ But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

It never fails to be utterly remarkable that a holy God could stoop to love sinners like us. What words of comfort from our God who never fails to keep his promises; our God who is “ slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”.

As someone who loves to sing God’s praises, this verse reminds me of an old hymn:

“ I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered, and died alone.

How marvellous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvellous! How wonderful!
Is my Saviour’s love for me

And if having our sins forgiven is not marvellous enough, the last verse reveals what we are saved for- a relationship with the triune God:

“When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
‘twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.”

So, as we meet together later this month, my prayer is that through the preaching of the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will see afresh the holiness and righteousness of God. And we will rejoice in the Saviour who died for us, to make us spotless and perfect.

Now that is truly marvellous and wonderful and something to sing about!