Monthly Message Nov 2017

I retired from Baptist ministry some twelve years ago, but during one particular period of my ministry I would often conduct what I used to call Encouragement Weekends in various churches around London. Saturday was spent looking at the situation in which the church found itself at the time, what factors indicated its possible future direction, and then what practical steps needed to be taken. However, the first session of the day was always spent looking at the greatness of God. That was always my starting point. I once mentioned this outline to a group of church leaders with whom I was discussing the possibility of such a weekend. They showed me a chart recording the results of a survey they had done of their church. Either side of a vertical line in the middle of the page were a number of bars, of varying lengths, representing some aspect or other of the church’s life. The bars on the left of the line were the negative points, whilst those on the right were the positive ones. I noticed immediately that most of the bars on the left were longer than those on the right, and drew their attention to the fact. “That”, said the pastor, “is because we didn’t start where you do”. If we do not look first at God – his character, his nature, his promises, his power, his grace – then we shall feel the present sufferings, but fail to glimpse the coming glory.

The Bible is not short of encouraging promises about that coming glory. Paul assures us that
“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” .
and in Revelation we read
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ”
Soon we shall be in the season of Advent, a time that heralds either a time of frenetic, expensive activity or a time that prepares us to reflect again on our wonderful promise- keeping God who, in all things, works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tony Mason


Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus