Monthly Message Nov 2021

Dear friends,

I can still vividly remember seeing them, though it was way back in the 1960s: two men walking side by side down the aisle of a Hertfordshire Baptist church, carrying the offering they had just taken up.  Nothing remarkable in that, you might think. But one of those men was British and the other was German.  The latter had been brought to the UK as a prisoner-of-war during World War II and had decided to stay.

He was a Christian and had joined this particular church and, on getting to know the other man, discovered that both of them had fought in the same battle against each other!  Here they were now, no longer enemies but fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ!  But they had been, in fact, brothers in Christ even when they were in opposing armies.  Both of them had been reconciled to each other because both of them had been reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last month I reflected briefly on Revelation as one purpose of the Incarnation, now I turn to Reconciliation.  “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them”. II Cor 5:19).  Wonder of wonders!  God, the holy and sinless One takes the initiative in reconciling lost, rebellious, unclean sinners to himself.  And he doesn’t just brush off the dirt and leave us in our unrighteousness; rather “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. (v21).  Christ took our sin in order that we might receive his righteousness.

If God could effect so great an exchange, how deeply offensive our sin must be to him. If God could effect so great an exchange, how great must be his grace! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (v17).

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”  (Isaac Watts)

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

FOR YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND PRAYER

The Bible Focus Team have been considering the possibility of a “Reunion” in the Spring of 2022.  It would be something of a mini-version of the September event, but more informal and interactive. There would be opportunity for worship and to minister to one another in prayer and in sharing in the Word of God, to renew friendships made on previous occasions and even something to which you could invite your friends.

Further details will be available in due course, but in the meantime please join us in prayer about this, and let us know any thoughts on the matter that the Lord may lay on your heart.

Monthly Message Oct 2021

Dear friends,

Already mince pies are in the shops.  Already there are fears that, due to a shortage of HGV drivers, there may not be enough turkeys and toys for Christmas. If the world is starting to think about its version of Christmas as early as October, certainly Christians can start preparing for a true Christmas now.  So, God willing, between now and December I’d like to reflect on three aspects of the Incarnation – revelation, reconciliation and redemption.

  1. Revelation

What is God like?  He has revealed himself to us in creation, and in his written Word and supremely in Jesus.  “[I]n these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:2).  Philip once said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us”.  Jesus’ reply is staggeringly glorious!  “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”.  We ourselves have not seen him (yet!) with our physical eyes but we can meet with him through the accounts we find in God’s inspired Word. And those accounts are so trustworthy that Jesus could say to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.

In Colossians 1:5 Paul describes Jesus as “the image of the invisible God”; and in John 1 he is referred to as “the Word” which “became flesh and lived for a while among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. Man’s sin places us in a state of conflict and confusion.  The answer to both is to be found in Jesus Christ, for grace (undeserved love) addresses conflict (with God and with one another), and truth (the way things really are) addresses our confusion, our determination to think and do as each of us sees fit.

God has made himself known.  There is so much about God that we do not know or understand, but he has revealed just so much as we need.  “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law”  (Deut. 29:29).   In these days of widespread and longstanding ignorance of God surely our great need is to focus more on knowing Jesus and proclaiming him.  So much that we consider important issues of the day pale into insignificance when we set them against God’s self-revelation in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

“God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”  (Colossians 1:19)

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message Sep 2021

Dear friends,

Are you old enough to remember the hymn that contains the line: “Each vict’ry will help you some other to win.”? Many find that to be true, while others don’t because all too often they find that the Lord helps them to resist some temptation and then, in an unguarded moment, they fall into it some time later.

That’s how it was with the Israelites upon entering Canaan. The Lord (not Joshua!) fought and won the Battle of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down; all Israel had to do was to march round the city, blow some trumpets, and shout!  The next engagement was at Ai. The men sent to spy out the situation reported that only 3,000 men would be needed; it would be a walk-over. They could do it in their own strength, they reckoned, quite forgetting that it was not they who had defeated Jericho. The result was a thorough defeat not only because they fought in their own strength but chiefly because there was sin in the camp (Achan’s disobedience) which needed to be addressed.  Graciously, God gave them a second chance and kept his promise that: “into your hand I will deliver the city” (Joshua 8:18).  Two more conquests followed – at Makkedah and Libnah – and in both cases we are told that  Joshua did “as he had done to the king of Jericho”. The experience at Jericho was their point of reference.  Thereafter, however, each succeeding victory becomes the standard for the next: Joshua did at Lachish just as he had done to Libnah – then to Eglon where they did just has they had done to Lachish; then on to Hebron: just as at Eglon; then to Debir where it was as they did to Libnah and Hebron. Each victory was helping them to win the next. They are no longer referring back just to Jericho and Ai; they have more up-to-date, recent experiences of the Lord’s action on their behalf to encourage and strengthen and motivate them.

The book of Joshua attributes all these conquests to the power of God, though Joshua himself and the people were, of course, involved.  But the Lord has the glory: “All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel”.  Time and again we read of God giving or delivering Israel’s enemies into their hands. Their victories – and ours, over sin and temptation –  are God’s gifts!  Can you point to recent victories in your life of discipleship, and are you praising the Lord for them?  Each victory will help you some other to win if you remember that that victory was the Lord’s active gift to you.

But the greatest victory was that which Christ won for us on the cross, a victory over sin and death here and now but also for all eternity.  “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Cor 9:15).

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason